Katerine Duska Discovers Her Fascinating Heritage

This year’s Greek representative at Eurovision, Katerine Duska, was actually born in Montreal, Canada, to Greek parents. When she was in her teens, Katerine’s family returned to Greece, where she has lived ever since. Recently, Katerine took a MyHeritage DNA test and discovered that she is 70.6% Greek and 29.4% Balkan!

She has received an outpouring of love from Eurovision fans everywhere —notably in Romania, whose Eurovision representative this year also grew up partly in Montreal. Maybe in light of Katerine’s DNA results, we can understand why Romanians feel a special connection to her!  Katerine also found out she has 390 relatives from 37 countries across the globe.

Katerine’s Family Names

Katerine’s grandfather’s (paternal) last name is Ntouskas. Ntouskas is the phonetic Latin spelling for the Greek name Ντούσκας. In Greek, there’s no single consonant for the “d” sound, so they use two consonants: “n” and “t” (ν+τ, Ν+Τ). That’s why the name, though it’s pronounced “Duskas,” is spelled Ntouskas/Ντούσκας.

Another important thing to know is that Duska is the form given to women, Duskas is the form given to men. Katerine simplified the spelling of both her surname and her given name, which is normally spelled Aikaterini.

Katerine’s ethnicity results shows that she is 29.4% Balkan, and this might explain where her last name came from: there’s a tiny village in Bulgaria named Dushka—so tiny that as of 2016, its population numbered only 3 people!

But there might be another explanation for the name: it’s a Russian word for “sweetheart.” Dushka is a given name in Bulgaria.

Katerine’s paternal grandmother’s surname is Koliofoti. The meaning of the name possibility comes from the word “kolios,” which means “mackerel” (the fish) and the word “fos,” which means “light.” Fotios or Fotis is a common Greek name that means “enlightened one.” A possible explanation may be that a few generations back, there was a person named Fotis who was a fisherman, and people started calling him that: Fotis-who-fishes-kolios-fish. Skafidoti (Katerine grandmother’s place of birth) is an inland village, but the Koliofoti family may have moved there from somewhere closer to the sea.

Vouvopotamos and Skafidoti

Katerine’s grandfather, Georgios Ntouskas, was born in the village of Vouvopotamos, which lies along the banks of the Akheron River. The Akheron is famous in Greek mythology as one of the five rivers that led the souls of the deceased to their final resting place, the Hades.

 

The Akheron River
The Akheron River

A music festival called “River of Souls” has become a staple summer event. It’s been taking place in July for the past nine years. Katerine’s grandmother on her father’s side, Ekaterini Ntouskas, was born in the village of Ano Skafidoti, which lies at 600m above sea level in a valley between the mountain peaks of Tourla (1,080m) and Lagou Podari, meaning “Rabbit’s Foot” (1,090m). All the surrounding area, with footpaths once trod by the fighters of the Greek Revolution, is a favourite destination of trekkers and nature lovers in general. The emblem of Ano Skafidoti is the peony flower which blooms in May. Every year at the end of July it hosts the “Andamoma,” a big feast that welcomes guests and returning Skafidiotes.

View from Ano Skafidoti. Photo Credit: Harry Gouvas
View from Ano Skafidoti. Photo Credit: Harry Gouvas

The name Ntouskas is actually quite common in the Preveza region, which includes both Vouvopotamos and Skafidoti—and so, to a lesser extent, is Koliofoti. We imagine Katerine probably has family connections in the area.

Agia Triada (also called Steveniko), Livadia

Both of Katerine’s grandparents, Loukas and Ekaterini Paspariou, were born in the village of Agia Triada has a population of 600 and lies at the lower reaches of Elikon Mountain at 450m above sea level. No less than 23 churches and chapels dot the area, and there is a monastery dedicated to St. Loukas, after whom Katerine’s maternal grandfather was named. More adventurous visitors can ask locals to show them the way to the cave of the Nymph of Koronia, the medieval castle, or the sources of the Pontza River. Wine, olive oil, honey, cheese, and homemade pasta like “hylopites” and “trachanas” are produced locally and make tasty souvenirs.

Photo of the St. Loukas monastery Credit: Steveniko
Photo of the St. Loukas monastery Credit: Steveniko

What does Katerine think about it all?

“I was so happy with all that I discovered from my results,” she says. “Not only did I learn that I have a 70% Greek and South Italian background with a 30% Balkan heritage, but also that my family name can be traced back to a small village in Bulgaria with only 3 residents!

I also found out that my name in Russian can be translated to ‘sweetheart,’ which made me smile. Finally, learning about the traditions and festivals that take place in the birth villages of each of my grandparents has made me look forward to visiting those places once again.”

Katerine met with Eurovision.tv to discuss her MyHeritage results. Watch her interview here: