Food for Thought - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and moreThis is the place to write about our gastronomy, traditions, tales, songs and so on. Let's share the flavour of our cultures!

Pythagora's Banquet

What great Mathematicians ate was a subject that was discussed and researched by the Greek team ever since AToM began.
The result is this photostory that combines history with imagination, mathematicians and nutricion.
It also joins Greek and Italian history!
Research: Lefteris Sigiannis
Script: Lefteris Sigiannis and ms Efi Loupaki
Dramatization: Theodor Aravanis, Odysseas (Ulysses) Violetis, Foteini Peppa, Alexandre Anouar, Alexandre Leondis, Michael Zafirakis, Andreas Papacostas, Lazaros Panagiotidis
Photos: Natalie Mandikou, Ms Efi Loupaki, School library
Pythagoras' cup provided by Ioanna Roussi
Songs written and performed by Andreas Papacostas, Vretti Kotorou, Natalie Mandikou
Editing: School Libary


I came across a series of nice videos on Geometry, here is one of them, I chose the one that explains the difference between a two and three dimensional  world. More  videos are here. 
Enjoy them!

First of March talisman from Bucarest

We got a gift from Romania with March talismans, Romanian music and cards drawn and written by our twinners in Bucharest. In Greece we have the same custom, wearing a string of red and white intertwined "so that the March sun won't scorch you'. This March we got snow as well as fair, sunny days. That is why tradition has it that March was a man with two wives, a sulky one and a smiling one. You can guess why! At the end of May we will hang the talisman from a tree, just like in Romania! Thank you very much!

Lullaby of the Onion
from Joan Manuel Serrat 
Based on a poem from Miguel Hernández, a Spanish poet who was taken to prison because of his republican ideals and activities during the Civil War.
Being in prison he received a letter from his wife, telling him she could only eat bread and onion. Here is the translation:

The onion is frost 
shut in and poor. 
Frost of your days 
and of my nights. 
Hunger and onion, 
black ice and frost 
large and round. 
My little boy 
was in hunger's cradle. 
He was nursed 
on onion blood. 
But your blood 
is frosted with sugar, 
onion and hunger.




Maths and Poetry
While mathematical language can empower the imagery of a poem; mathematical structure can deepen its effect. Have a taste of a  menu of poems made rich by mathematical ingredients, a collective work of the Romanian team


 Source of this poem here
Scutecele Domnului
                                by Tania Calinoiu
These are traditional Christmas cakes. Their name literally means “God’s diapers”.  Here is how they are made: prepare some unleavened dough of flour, water and a pinch of salt. Break small pieces of dough, and spread it in thinround shaped sheets, which are baked on both sides. Bake them in a hot oven on a tray, for only a few minutes, on one sheet of baking paper, until they are golden and crispy.
They can be prepared the day before Christmas Eve and then left to dry. On Christmas Eve, you prepare a light syrup of warm water sweetened with honey or sugar, spiced with vanilla, rum and the zest from one lemon and one orange.

        After each cake is soaked in the syrup, sprinkle on them some crushed nuts mixed with brown sugar. Let ithem rest for a while, so the essences and textures merge, and cut them in a square, rhombuses, or any other Geometrical shapes, according to your imagination.
       Enjoy them!

Valentine AToM quotes
"In the arithmetic of love, one plus one equals everything, and two minus one equals nothing.'

"In love, one plus one equals one".
Jean Paul Sartre, French philosopher, (1905-1980)

"Love is like Mathematics. Like geometry, it requires proof beyond words. Like algebra it requires equality and truth, so the the human equation will work. Like the abrstract number theory, it takes imagination and subversive thought. Besides, to many it remains a still unsolved problem." Aggeliki Varela, 16, grandaughter of the famous Greek childrens' author.

  Dragobete, our own Valentine's Day
by Andrei Ion

          Dragobete is a traditional Romania holiday, celebrated on February 24, almost identical to Valentine's Day, and also celebrated in February. 
Dragobete was the name of Baba Dochia’s son. Baba Dochia is a mythological character who brings the spring on March 1st. According to some legends, she was a Dacian woman that the emperor Trajan fell in love with, while others say she is Saint Evdokia.
The day is known as ,,navalnicul'' or ,,the day when the birds are betrothed". It is around this time that the birds begin to build their nests. On this day, considered locally as the first day of spring, boys and girls gather vernal flowers and sing together. Maidens used to collect the snow that still lies on the ground in many villages and then melt it, using the water in magic potions throughout the rest of the year. Those who take part in Dragobete customs are supposed to be protected from illness, for the rest of the year. If the weather allows, girls and boys pick snowdrops or other early spring plants for the person they are courting. In Romania, Dragobete is known as a day for lovers, rather like Valentine's Day.

It is a common belief in some parts of Romania that, during this celebration, if you step over your partner's foot, you will have the dominant role in your relationship. Dragobete customs vary from region to region.

Geometry is all around us, just take a look at this tulip: the longer petals make an equilateral triangle, while the short petals make another, with the same circumcenter. That means that the center of the circumscribed circles is the same for the two triangles, so the triangles have the same perpendicular bisectors. Do you suppose the tulip knows the amount of Geometry its petals hold?

AtoM rose

This is Pomegranate team Natalie’s work during art class. The pentagon was the Pythagorian’s secret sign, because it was considered a perfect shape. It contains three different geometrical shapes (can you guess which ones?) and its proportions were the golden ratio (see below for more). You can enjoy, as we did the Disney film “Donald in Mathmagic Land”, Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 concerning the pentagon, the golden ratio and much more!

Geometry and Psychology

Draw yourelf using up to 12 (careful, no more, no less!) shapes (triangles, circles and squares). This is a personality test and the pomegranate team in Elefsina will tell you the answers!
You can draw by hand or on the computer. Have a go! Look at what the great author Leo Tolstoi said:

"A man is like a fraction whose numerator is what he is and whose denominator is what he thinks of himself. The larger the denominator, the smaller the fraction."  Leo Tolstoy

AToM Baby

Have you ever thought about the first logical thought a baby makes? Careful, we are talking about reason, not sentiment. Write a comment in the box.You can be as funny as you like!
Help here.

Geometry on Plates

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The Golden Ratio 
In mathematics and the arts, two quantities are in the golden ratio if the ratio of the sum of the quantities to the larger quantity is equal to the ratio of the larger quantity to the smaller one. That is: (a+b):a = a:b. The golden ratio is an irrational mathematical constant, approximately 1.6180339887. Other names frequently used for the golden ratio are the golden section (Latin: sectio aurea) and golden mean. The golden ratio is often denoted by the Greek letter phi (φ). The golden section was found by Pthagoreans.

A golden rectangle is one whose side lengths are in the golden ratio, approximately 1:1.618. A distinctive feature of this shape is that when a square section is removed, the remainder is another golden rectangle; that is, with the same proportions as the first. Square removal can be repeated infinitely.

The golden rectangle was considered by ancient Greeks to be one of the most pleasant proportion and it was used in architecture. Some studies of the Acropolis, including the Parthenon, conclude that many of its proportions approximate the golden ratio. Maybe our Greek partners can show us some examples!

But the golden ratio has continued to fascinate and influence artists until the modern days, and it is to be found in painting, scuplture, music, design, and even in nature.
Here is an example from Bucharest: the Romanian Atheneum. 

And an example from the Netherlands: a golden rectangles coffee table!

More information here.

Christmas at home in Avila
The main characteristic of Christmas decoration in Spain is the Nativity Scene. Families can, even treasure their own ones from one generation to another. Depending on the room they have and on the children, their scenes are more or less elaborated.

In New Year's Eve, after dinner, we have 12 grapes: one for each month. It is lucky to have all of them.

Look for the Three Wise Men in our photos and remember, they are the dearest figures as they represent the "Expectation Night". Everybody polishes shoes and leave them near the window on the night of 5th January expecting to get presents. Then, in the morning we have the "Roscón de Reyes", a typical cake with a surprise inside.

Christmas at home from Valentina Cuadrado on Vimeo.

The 12 days of Christmas festivities in Greece

On the first school day of 2011, the Pomegranate team cut the traditional St Vassilis' pie in 8 pieces. One for each partner, the Czech Republic, us, Holland,  Italy, Spain, Romania, and the first two pieces for baby Jesus and the host, in this case the school library. The lucky coin fell to the partner who will receive a parcel from Greece. Lets keep a bit of suspension!

Before the Xmas tree, the traditional Xmas decoration for a country deeply involved with the sea, was to light up a minature ship and go tell the carols with a metal triangle and  a drum. The carolers (usually boys) received xmas sweets for treats (the honeyed melomakarona and the sugarcoated kourabiedes). On Xmas day, after the early morning mass, the special Xmas bread was eaten, a custom found in many European countries, only with a different recipe.
On  New Year's Day, the father used to wake up the family  for mass by touching their foreheads with the onion bulb, which was to be planted for good luck. After church, the one concidered the luckiest in the family (usually the father) had to step inside the house first, breaking a pomegranate for good luck and prosperity.
During the meal, St Basil's cake would be cut, naming the pieces after the members of the family. The first three pieces always go to the Christ, the homeless, the mansion. Whoever finds the lucky coin inside their piece is considered the fortunate one for the new year and are usually given money.
On January 6th, when the Christ was baptised, the waters are blessed by a priest, who throws the blessed Cross in the sea and the fittest young men dive to catch it. It is an honour indeed to be the one to catch the cross. That is the day the naughty goblins are chased away and return to the centre of the earth, were they make it their job to saw the Tree of Life, that holds the World up, but which will have miraculously regrown during their fortnight above the earth, where they drive the housewives crazy with their mischief.

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Pomegranate atom

St. Andrew's Day
-->The 30th of November is one of the important Romanian holidays. It is the day we celebrate Saint Andrew (in Romanian his name is Andrei), the protector of our country. -->There are many traditions without religious meaning connected to this day, some of them having their origin on the Roman celebrations of Saturn.
 Early on St. Andrew’s day, the mothers go into the garden and pick tree branches, especially  from apple trees, pear trees, cherry trees, but also rose -bush branches. They make a  bunch of  branches for each family member. The one whose bunch will bloom by New Years day will be lucky and healthy next year.
        On St. Andrew’s night ghosts haunt and harass the people. For protection, one should rub the entrance door with garlic and turn all the dishes upside down. A special party takes place now, called “Guarding the garlic”. Boys and girls gather in a house with the doors and windows rubbed with garlic. They also put garlic (three bulbs for each girl) in a wooden tub that is to be guarded till day-break by an old woman, in a candle-lit room. They party all night and in the morning  the wooden tub is taken outside and they dance around it. Then they all take some garlic home as protection against illness or spells.
         But the best known tradition connected to this night is the one about matrimony and premonitory dreams. Single girls must put under their pillow either a branch of  sweet basil, or , better 41 wheat grains. If  someone takes the grains in their dreams, that means the girl will marry soon. They can also plant wheat in a dish and water it until New Year’s day. The nicer the wheat looks that day, the better the year to come.

The pomegranate and Elefsina

The Greek team chose the pomegranate as its official team name, not only because it can be seen as a set with subsets and elements (the seeds), but because it has a special relation to the town's mythology. According to the ancient myth, Persephone, was given to eat its enchanted seeds by her husband, the god of the underworld, Hades. Her mother, the earth goddess who taught people to cultivate barley and wheat, Demetre, demanded of him that he should allow her to visit her on earth, after abducting her and causing her to roam the planet to find her lost daughter. The agreement was that Persephone would spend six months with her mother and six with her husband. The seeds were to ensure that Persephone wouldn't forget to return to the gloomy world of the dead, where she was queen. Spring and summer came with her arrival on earth, and everything withered when she went away. Notice that the ancient bread was divided in four, to show the four seasons. See the myth dramatised by our students here.

Geometry and nature


  1. In my opinion, the first glimpse of logical reasoning is the implication, the "if". It comes into a baby's little brain very early in this form: "if I cry, mum will hold me". An we all know it's correct! :)

  2. I can't think of a better answer. Can it be made into an equation?

  3. The Romanian plates are dazzling! The colour, the patterns! We have a Romanian Easter egg in our school, sent by our twinners in Targoviste (the other two broke :(( ) and everybody admires them.

  4. Very interesting Christmas traditions, we also have the ones for the Epiphany and the one with the lucky coin.

  5. I like the rose, let's see if the students will recognize the shapes! They will try to answer next week.
    As for the pie, we might have a pie-task for the Pi-day! :)

  6. These traditions, tales and songs are very interesting, especially the Dragobete and the tulip one.

  7. "The God's diapers" and the Greece pie made me hungry! They seem to be so delicious !!!

  8. Hi!I'm Armand and in my opinion Greece his a good team and this boat is delicious!!!!!!

  9. HI I'm Razvan in my opinion the Greek picture with the Thales triangles is beautiful.

  10. Hi! I'm Alexander and I want to congratulate you for hard working.

  11. Our romanian traditions are intresting , but your tradition is fantastic!I think is great to know other traditions ! P.s.:I think your food is very tasty!

    from Romania

  12. Hy. I am Vali.I liked The 12 days of Christmas festivities in Greece .

  13. The AtoM rose penthagon has a trapezoid, a rhombus and two isosceles triangles. One of
    them is a golden triangle and the other is a golden gnomon. Their sides are in the golden ratio. This rose is very intresting!

  14. Actually you found more shapes in the pentagon than we did! Well done! Thank you for your comments, but we honestly think Romania is full of colour, music and surprises.

  15. I really like nick's pomegranate interesting work and ms Irina's nature photos! We could add some nature photos of mine (and from other kids if they want) as well!

    Good job!

    Natalie, Greece

  16. Natalie have you noticed all the Geometry in the nature photos? :)
    Sure, show us some nature and Maths images. If I may suggest something, and at the same time anticipate a future activity, can we have some symmetry photos?

  17. I'm glad you got our tiny letter, I suspected it got lost on the way. I'll tell the kids it arrived. Thank you!

  18. Hi! Could someone give the answers to the "draw 12 shapes test" please? I have done it a very long time ago and I just remembered and been looking for the results all over the internet... Thx

  19. Hi, Linas. Sorry for the late answer; here it is: the rectangles stand for the mind, the triangles for emotion and the circles for ... the other thing! ;)