Wednesday, September 22, 2010

On being Greek

I love being Greek. I love the culture, the history and the beauty of Greece. I loved spending my summers in Greece as a child, and next summer, my children will hopefully visit Greece for the first time. Except for the 8 hour plane ride, I'm excited to show them their roots.

Let me tell you a little bit about being Greek.

Greek people love to eat. Everything is about food. Meal times are NEVER missed and dinner is a huge event. Every night, it's like Thanksgiving. We consume a lot. Then, at around 10 p.m, the night begins. That is when people start getting ready to go out, coming back home at around 5 a.m. Greeks know how to enjoy life! Their passion for food, music, drinks, shopping, sex, and everything—is evident. Just ask anyone who has been to Greece!

Even though a lot of people in Greece still smoke, the life expectancy is very high. You know why? Because they are so chilled about life. They eat healthy—fresh fish, olive oil, Greek salads and delicious fruit, every day. They are surrounded by the beautiful sea and gorgeous mountains, and they don't have to scrape ice off of their car for 6 months out of the year. They nap EVERY DAY. Greece is doing something right!

Greek people are also funny and set in their ways. Nothings gets my grandfather worked up like a conversation about Greek politics. Greek people have been known to go into cardiac arrest over topics like politics and soccer. If you're on the wrong 'team', don't even think about entering my house. I can't deal with the yelling! Oh, yes... Greeks are very loud, too. And VERY dramatic.

Greek people also have some crazy 'superstitions', like:

If you put your child's shirt on inside out, it will keep away the evil eye.

If your child crawls across the room, it means you'll soon have a visitor.

You shouldn't bring your wedding dress back to your parents house because it's bad luck.

If you have an itchy hand, you're going to come across some money.

To get rid of the evil eye, Greek people sometimes spit on themselves three times. (Not actually spit, more like, pretend spit. This, my friends, is the cure to the evil eye. Now you know!)

On New Year's Day, Greek people eat vasilopita, a Greek desert bread, covered in icing sugar. The person who finds the coin in their piece of cake will have good luck for the entire year.

Don't hand someone a knife—let them pick it up, or you will get into a fight with that person.

Shoes that are overturned are bad luck and can even mean death. Yeah. Make sure your shoes are upright!

Greek parents also loving getting mad at their children. And, oh, the things we heard...

Things like:

"Tha sou alaxo ta fota sou." Translation: I'm going to change your lights!

"Then eimaste kala." (I've heard this one the most!) Translation :We're not well. As in, you're clearly not well in the head.

"Tha fas ksilo!" Translation: You'll eat sticks. As in, you're about to get your ass kicked!

How about my personal favourite, said to children when they leave the house:

"Ta matia sou theka-tesera!" Translation: Your eyes, 14! As in... um? Make sure all your eyes are open and be really careful!

These are just some of the funny things I remember growing up in a Greek household. Greeks are certainly entertaining!

How about you? Do you have any funny superstitions from your culture, or anything your parents would say to you that strikes you as funny now?

16 comments:

Elaine A. said...

The spitting thing cracks me up and do y'all still break plates at weddings too? ;)

And what exactly is "the evil eye" - does it symbolize the devil? I'm truly curious...

Marilyn (A Lot of Loves) said...

Alas my family has been in Canada for so many generations that we've lost any traditions my forefathers might have brought over. I think the only German thing we still do is make kuchen for Christmas.

My parents traveled to Greece a few years ago and said it's one of the best countries in Europe.

confused homemaker said...

I love this list. It's making me smile in the best way :) Growing up with many Greek friends & the joys of the family life!

Nikosmommy said...

"Tha fas ksilo!" That's like an everyday saying in our house...a favorite of my husbands!!!
You've got your culture pegged pretty well.... now imagine marrying into it and to a first generation greek immigrant.
Wonderful and crazy all at the same time!

Lady Mama said...

I swear I'm really Greek. Or Italian. I love food and family dinners and am very passionate, especially when I get into a heated debate about something. I love their approach to life too - the whole laid back thing, eating well, napping in the middle of the day, etc. I need to do some of that...

Avitable said...

But do you cure all illnesses with Windex?

Nancy@ifevolutionworks.com said...

One of my fav movies is Big Fat Greek Wedding. The jewish culture is very similar. It's all about food and family...and being loud.

ModernMom said...

Sounds like a fabulous way to grow up. It does sound like the Greeks are dong something right....except now I am worried about my shoes:)

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

I am totally going to pick some poison ivy. I need some itchy hands...

Lizz said...

I want to visit Greece so. bad. And only an 8 hour plane ride for you? I know you're in Canada but that seems fast!

I've heard of the itchy hand thing. My Gram is British so she has a few odd superstitions. Don't give a purse as a gift w/out putting a coin in it. No new shoes on the table (but old shoes are ok?). Never go out a different door than you entered.

Angie said...

Lizz... Greek people have the door thing too, atleast my rollie-pollie grandma use to think we would ruin our "proxenio" if we entered the front of the house and left from the back of the house, this was NOT allowed.

I liked your post... I forgot how culturally greek I am in mentality, my parents didn't do the whole dinner thing, or the fruit thing... but I love to cook and my daughters eat pounds of fruits a day. And my pride is far the worse traight I have, my husband calls me out on it all the time.

Muthering Heights said...

Hmmm those are some funny superstitions!

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I wouldn't say that we had any funny "cultural" anecdotes - but I do come from a long line of characters. I'm one of the "straight man" types and automatically find myself drawn to funny, dramatic and quirky types. And I know exactly why!

An example of stuff that was normal in our house but possibly not elsewhere was my father's love of musicals and tendency to break into song (like if someone named "Maria" came in a story, he'd have to sing "MARIA! I just met a girl named Maria!") I can't count the number of times I heard him enter a room singing "Some Enchanted Evening." Once when we were dating Chris said, "your family is always referring to musicals and I never know what you're talking about." I told him he was crazy - it wasn't THAT bad. Then at dinner we were trying to decide if my cousin Emmett was in 6th grade or 7th grade and I found myself singing, "he's in 6th grade, going on 7th grade...[Sound of Music - 'You are sixteen, going on seventeen...'] Chris immediately turned to me and exclaimed, "see! You're doing it again - I don't even know what that means!"

So yeah - I think all families have their unique personality cultural or not.

designHER Momma said...

I'm 100% dutch, which means i'm cheap. I rather be greek.

Faiqa said...

OMG!! We have these, too:
- To get rid of the evil eye, Greek people sometimes spit on themselves three times. (Not actually spit, more like, pretend spit. This, my friends, is the cure to the evil eye. Now you know!)
- Shoes that are overturned are bad luck and can even mean death. Yeah. Make sure your shoes are upright!

As a side note, in the town where I grew up, there was a huge Greek community, and people would ask me ALL the TIME if I was Greek. It got to the point where I just started saying yes because people didn't believe me when I said no.

So, in a way, I love being Greek, too. :D

The confessions of a blogaholic said...

This is hilarious. But no mention of the pandofla?? lol

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