January 10, 2008

St. George of Ioannina

Posted in Holidays tagged , , , , at 9:26 pm by expatdiane

The memory of the New Martyr George “who was martyred in Ioannina” is honored every year with the appropriate dignity in his birthplace Aghios Georgios, Grevena (previously Tsourchli). A village which changed its name in honor of the saint in 1927.

On the 17th of January, a day our Church honors with the feast of St. Anthony, was also the day that the New Martyr George, at the age of 30 in 1838 came to a martyr’s death by hanging in the city of Ioannina. The gallows were set up in the busy Ioannina square of “Kormanio”, which is opposite the great Castle entrance. The square now bears the New Martyr’s name.

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The New Martyr, George, was one of the last victims of the forced recruitment of Christian boys by the Ottomans. This happened when he was 12 years old. Nevertheless, he was able to preserve his Christian faith untainted; a faith for which he was martyred despite the Turkish environs of Ioannina considered him to be a Turk and employed him in the Turkish army as a horse groom, with the name “Infidel (Giaour) Hasan”.

The New Martyr, George, who was modest in his ways, always war the traditional long foustanela of his village and an embroidered waistcoat, which he is depicted in, in icons.

A new phase in his life started in October 1836, when he decided to get engaged and then marry on the feast of St. Demetrios, a Christian girl from Ioannina, Eleni. They had a son together, born in December 1837, who was baptized in keeping with Christian tradition on the 7th January 1838, giving him the name John.

All this, of course, provoked his persecution and eventually his death by martyrdom. This was because, despite Turks’ torture, to make him deny his Christian faith, the saint confessed with courage “I was never a Turk, I was always a Christian. He even said this at the gallows, which he faced with composure and bravery.

His last words are typical. When his Turkish tormentors asked him “What are you?” before pulling up the gallows, George asked that his hands be untied, he made the sign of the cross and said, “I am a Christian and I shall die a Christian, I bow before my Christ and my Lady Theotokos.” Then, turning to the Christians who stood there he said, “Forgive me brethren, and God will forgive you.”

The body of the Saint hung on the gallows for three days, without, however, decaying, an incident that made even the Turks believe in his holiness and allowed him to be buried with the greatest honor.

George, the New Martyr, was officially recognized as a saint on the 19th September 1839 by the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople under Patriarch Gregorios and eleven synodical bishops. However, he had already been accepted as a saint by the Christians of the area from the time of his death. Not only that, but according to some witnesses many Muslims who lived in the area of Ioannina also recognized his holiness.

Many biographies and services were written for the New Martyr, George, amongst them the one by the monk Gerasimos Mikrogiannitis, which mentions amongst other things:

“This distinguished New Martyr of Christ, George, who was the son of devout and virtuous parents, Constantine and Vasilo, from a certain village of the province of Grevena, commonly called “Tsourchli” now called “St. George”. His father, a poor man, obtaining life’s necessities by farming, who had George and brought him up in piety, could not educate him because of poverty. With no experience of formal learning, nevertheless, being orphaned of his parents at a young age he lived with his brothers for a time. In these circumstances, moved to Ioannina, where he earned his living as an waged worker, with simple manners, modest decency, gentle and kind, and not absent from marveling at the house of the Lord in his season.”

The first icon of the Saint was made on the 30 January 1838, only a few days after his Martyrdom, commissioned by the Hieromonk Chrysanthos Lainos, who is mentioned as his spiritual father and guide. In this icon the saint is depicted in his traditional clothes, holding a cross in his right hand and in his left a palm branch and a scroll with the petition: “Do not separate me from the glory of your martyrs, my sweetest Jesus, because I am consumed by your love, but also strengthened by your great mercy, O Christ.”

January 8, 2008

X-rays and results on the same day

Posted in Day to day life, Medical care and costs tagged , , , , at 7:25 pm by expatdiane

One evening, I accompanied my husband who went to have a chest x-ray. The general practice here is to go to a radiology lab with a doctor’s order in hand to have the x-rays taken. An appointment rarely needs to be made as most welcome walk-ins.

Once we arrived, there was only one person being seen, so we didn’t have long to wait. It only took a few minutes to have the x-ray taken and then another five minutes to wait until they were ready. The radiologist then read the findings and all was well with only a cost of 45.00 Euros. What was also very different, was the fact that we were able to take the x-rays with us, not that we would need them, but after all, we did pay for them!

Back home, this is unheard of, unless of course you are seen in an emergency room where you can have the x-rays taken and the results given on the same day. I always wondered why they make us wait to have routine x-rays done and then having to make an additional appointment weeks later to get the results. Forget about even touching the x-rays after the fact, much less taken them home with you!

December 1, 2007

Christmas in Greece

Posted in Christmas, Holidays tagged , , , , , , , at 6:35 pm by expatdiane

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St. Nicholas is important in Greece as the patron saint of sailors. According to Greek tradition, his clothes are drenched with brine, his beard drips with seawater, and his face is covered with perspiration because he has been working hard against the waves to reach sinking ships and rescue them from the angry sea. Greek ships never leave port without some sort of St. Nicholas icon on board.

Christmas ranks second to Easter in the roster of important holidays. Yet there are a number of unique customs associated with Christmas that are uniquely Greek. On Christmas Eve, village children travel from house to house offering good wishes and singing kalanda, the equivalent of carols. Often the songs are accompanied by small metal triangles and little clay drums. The children are frequently rewarded with sweets and dried fruits.

After 40 days of fasting, the Christmas feast is looked forward to with great anticipation by adults and children alike. Pigs are slaughtered and on almost every table are loaves of christopsomo (“Christ Bread”). This bread is made in large sweet loaves of various shapes and the crusts are engraved and decorated in some way that reflects the family’s profession.

Christmas trees which were once rare in Greece are becoming more popular. In some parts of Greece (mainly villages) almost every home the main symbol of the season is a shallow wooden bowl with a piece of wire is suspended across the rim; from that hangs a sprig of basil wrapped around a wooden cross. A small amount of water is kept in the bowl to keep the basil alive and fresh. Once a day, a family member, usually the mother, dips the cross and basil into some holy water and uses it to sprinkle water in each room of the house. This ritual is believed to keep the Kalikatzaroi away from the house.

Gifts are exchanged on St. Basil’s Day (January 1). Although times are changing rapidly here in Greece and now children are opening gifts on Christmas Day and then again on New Year’s Day.

People greet one another by saying Hronia polla (many happy years).

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Kourabiedes – Crunchy cookie but melts in your mouth. Some recipes have walnuts or almonds in them. They are covered with powdered surger.

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Melomakarona – A traditional Christmas cookie, very soft in syrup with sprinkles of nuts on top.

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Vasilopita – St. Basil bread – A sweet bread (cake) type with powder sugar on top. It is baked with a coin inside. Consumed on January 1st. Anyone who gets the piece with the coin in it will have good luck for that year.

Christmas celebrations end on Epiphany (renewal of the waters), January 6. On this day, priests dip crucifixes in the nearest lake or river to sanctify the waters.

The Kalikatzaroi

Posted in Christmas, Superstitions tagged , , , , , , at 6:07 pm by expatdiane

In Greek superstition these are little demons or goblins that come on the earth for twelve days beginning on Christmas (December 25th) and ending their visit on Epiphany (January 6th). Traditions about the Kalikatzaroi vary from region to region, but in general they are half-animal, half-human monsters, black, hairy, with huge heads, glaring red eyes, goats’ or asses’ ears, blood-red tongues hanging out, ferocious tusks, monkeys’ arms, and long curved nails, and commonly they have the foot of some beast. “From dawn till sunset they hide themselves in dark and dank places, but at night they issue forth and run wildly to and fro, rending and crushing those who cross their path. Destruction and waste, greed and lust mark their course.”They are thought to not commit any major harm to humanity other than carrying on mischievous pranks. The crimes that they commit are usually quite minor such as riding on a persons back, break all the furniture, devour the Christmas pork, befoul all the water and wine and food which remains, extinguishing fires and leave the occupants half dead with fright. Around this time period scratches on the walls or fire places are considered to foretell the presence of these little men.

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As the Kalikatzaroi are demons in order to prevent them from entering a household during this twelve day period some people dip crosses into basil and holy water and sprinkle the rooms of their home. It is believed that the Kalikatzaroi are fearful of holy water and will not enter a house that is blessed.

The Kalikatzaroi are said to enter a house from the chimney in a similar manner as “Santa Claus”, to prevent the Kalikatzaroi from entering a house during this period fire places are kept burning all day long.

The most notable story of the Kalikatzaroi is the “Story of the Tree of Life.” The tree of life is considered as the base of the world, “The support which the world is build on” if the tree is cut down the world will come to an end. The Kalikatzaroi for the span of the whole year can be found chopping at the tree of life trying to cut it down and bring an end to the world. When the Kalikatzaroi have almost succeeded in their task and the world stands on the support of merely a strand of wood Christmas arrives. The Kalikatzaroi then run up to the earth to cause their mischief.

The Kalikatzaroi arrive with their leader Koutsavli who rides on a crippled horse the day before Christmas. When the Kalikatzaroi see the priest begin the blessing of the waters on Epiphany their mischief comes to an end as they run back to the depths of the earth in a panic. When back in the depths of the earth they are shocked to find that the tree of life has replenished itself. The Kalikatzaroi then begin the task of cutting down the tree once again, only to have the same thing happen to them year after year.

In the past Kalikatzaroi were used mostly as a fairy tale to scare little children. Though they were considered to commit pranks such as messing up a house some of the pranks were not always bad. In some areas of Greece nuts would be thrown into the houses only to be picked up by the children. Little pranks such as this and other weird occurrences were considered actions of these little men!

September 20, 2007

Blood draw

Posted in Day to day life, Medical care and costs tagged , , , , at 6:28 pm by expatdiane

This morning I went in to my doctor’s office to have some blood drawn. Usually, here in Greece, people tend to get the order from their doctor and then go into a lab where they don’t have to long as wait to have blood drawn. Since I didn’t get my lab order prior to, I decided to just have it done right then and there.

Luckily when I arrived to my doctor’s office, I was in shock to see that there were not 30 women waiting to be seen like last time, but only two. I was relieved as I had left my daughter with my husband at work and told him I would see them sometime within the next few hours. He planned an entire afternoon with her just in case I didn’t return early. After a few minutes, one of the ladies waiting went in to be seen when the other came out. The lady that was waiting called over the other patient to ask her the procedure for an exam. She basically wanted to know what clothes she could leave on…etc..etc. She was relieved to find out that she didn’t have to remove all her clothing and went on to discuss a bad experience she had with another doctor. Of course, I was only able to pick up bits and pieces of this conversation since I am not that fluent in the language. Once her informer left, she walked over to me and started talking away. All I could do was smile and act as though I understood all she was saying. She seemed quite relieved with the information gathered and was anxious to get her exam over with. She went on and on and for the life of me, I was not able to shut her up. I tried looking away, acting as if I were watching TV, but there was no end in site. Once the other patient came out, she went in still talking and continued with the doctor. Since they were behind closed doors, I couldn’t make out all she was telling him, even though her voice was as loud as a big rig truck coming towards you out on the freeway. Her voice grew louder and louder. From the doctor’s comments to her, I could tell he just wanted her out of there. After her exam, he kept telling her goodbye in a polite manner but she just kept on and on. He finally had to walk to her to the door but she still didn’t get it. At that point, I got up and walked around her straight in his office and it was at that point that she finally realized that her visit was over.

My doctor was relieved that the patient was gone. He was in a hurry as it was lunch time for him. As he gathered the items needed to draw my blood, he kept on bursting out laughing every so often and nodding his head in disbelief as to what the previous patient told him. I’m sure he would have told me what she said but we have somewhat of a language barrier problem. That, and the fact he was in a hurry to get out there before another woman with an even better story showed up.

September 19, 2007

Medical care and costs

Posted in Day to day life, Medical care and costs tagged , , , , , at 5:17 pm by expatdiane

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Charges for routine medical tests here in Greece usually depend on the doctor you see and his reputation in the community. However, charges are cheaper when compared to that in the U.S., even if one does not have insurance (example: doctor visit 30.00 euros – teeth cleaning 40.00 euros). ER services and Ambulance rides to public hospitals are free. Of course, avoiding hospitals is the best plan anywhere. The tradition of nursing as a profession is not well developed and hospitals depend on families for much care. Doctors are highly trained – many in the U.S. Pharmacists can get whatever you need and most drugs do not require a prescription. Costs are, by U.S. standards, reasonable.

**Note: one thing that has amazed me since I moved here has been the hospital ER services. When going in for any kind of emergency, you don’t see a regular ER physician but instead you are sent to a doctor within the hospital who specializes on the illness or problem you have (example: when I fractured my finger, I was sent to an Orthopedic).

One of the biggest concerns for those who are planning on moving here is insurance, but there is no need to be, unless you have major medical problems. Most of us who have insurance do not use it the majority of the time. Doctors here have insurance day while other days are not. For the convenience of not having to wait in a room full of people on insurance day, we opt to go on non-insurance day and pay the 30.00 euros out of our pocket.

Emergency surgery here is not as expensive as in the U.S. either. I had an emergency c-section due to complications during labor, stayed in a birthing center for an entire week, in my own private room, with catered meals three times a day and two nurses of my own 24/7. The total bill for that was 1500.00 Euros. Very cheap, but then again, it was the location that mattered. In Athens a three day stay in a hospital after a regular delivery costs about 3000.00 euros.

Shopping

Posted in Day to day life, Shopping tagged , , , , at 5:15 pm by expatdiane

Shopping in Greece is a very different experience compared to that in the U.S. For starters, stores here are not open 24 hours and are closed on Sundays.The first and most obvious difference while shopping at the supermarket is when you have to insert a 50 euro coin piece to unlock a cart for use. The cart wheels swivel, making it difficult to get around especially if your cart is full. As you go through the check out line, you put your purchases on the counter and as they are checked through, you bag your own groceries. You then return the cart by locking it to the others and that’s when your 50 euro cent piece is returned to you.

Besides the supermarkets, there are specialty shops such as the butcher, bakery, produce and fish. The bread and desserts, are by far, the most enjoyable products in Greece along with the cheese of course. The breads are baked daily and you can smell that fresh bakery fragrance once you begin your approach. The desserts and pastries are also baked daily and they are very proud of these products, as they should be. Prices in specialty shops are usually cheaper then in a supermarket.

As for prices, if you attempt to live solely as you might in the U.S., prices are high. Fresh fruits and vegetables come from nearby and are usually great. The range of foods available used to be narrow but have widened over the last few years and it includes many American items or their equivalents. Of course you can’t get everything, but as time goes by, you learn to live without. Generally, food is fresher because it is seasonal and doesn’t travel as far than in the U.S. Location plays a big factor as can the season.

Shopping for clothing is another thing all together. There is not a great variety of products – what you find in one store, you are sure to find in another. Location plays a very important part on how much you will pay for an item. In one part of the city, an item might be a few Euros higher while in another, it is a few Euros lower. The same goes throughout the country.

Greeks are very fashion-conscious and buying more expensive appeals much more to the consumer. In the U.S., we prefer comfort over style, while here in Greece, it is the total opposite. Fashion is very important here and there is a large consumption in brand name clothing. Popular styles go in and out very quickly (one to two months). Clothing for babies are not made for comfort either (where are the snappy crotches?).

Walking and driving

Posted in Walking and driving tagged , , , , at 4:41 pm by expatdiane

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Walking in Greece is hard work. In the states, people move aside to give the right away to the person who is coming towards them, so one might expect Greeks to do the same. But instead, they march straight ahead down narrow sidewalks with no notice of people coming toward them. Every approach is a contest of wills, a guessing game and/or a collision. No need to panic though, just step out of the way and let them go by. Come to think of it, perhaps they do walk the way they drive. It is a rare occurance for Greeks to give the right away to another car. This causes all kinds of arguments that then cause traffic jams. It is not uncommon to see drivers create two lanes where one is supposed to exist. Driving etiquette is non-existent in Greece. Drivers will not think twice to cut you off or tail you. Luckily, there is not the violent road rage phenomenon you see in the US. In congested traffic, many Greek drivers don’t believe in turn signals, pedestrian right of way, or even stoplights. If there’s a traffic jam up ahead, it’s perfectly acceptable to drive on the sidewalk in order to bypass stopped cars, especially if you’re on a motorcycle. Seat belts are rarely worn. My favorite has to be the overuse of hazard lights which is fairly common. Whenever a driver wants to stop in the middle of the road to have a chat with a friend and can’t be bothered by getting out of the car, or decides to double park while waiting for someone, out come the hazard lights. They seem to guarantee the driver who switches them on some sort of immunity and all fellow drivers will give you the benefit of the doubt and let you get on with whatever you are doing. No one beeps their horns or shouts at you if the hazards lights are on.

Parking in just about every major city can be a nightmare. Major traffic problems here are due to a large consumption of cars and lack of parking. Parking on side walks is common and double parking as well. If someone blocks the street, horns are held continuously until someone moves the car – this can take minutes.

There is full service at gas stations which includes washing your windows, checking your oil and tires. There is no self service stations in Greece.

Crime

Posted in Crime, Day to day life tagged , , , at 4:38 pm by expatdiane

Crime in Greece is one of the lowest in Europe and is one of the safest countries in the world. This is not to say that crime does not exist. It certainly does. However, the majority are petty crimes as armed violence and random assaults are fairly uncommon. Gun control is strictly enforced and possession of firearms of any type, except those licensed for hunting, is forbidden. This may play a large part as to why crime is not as high as in other countries where owning a gun is legal.

You don’t see police often in the streets, nor do you see them on freeways or roads much while traveling. The only time they may be out in full force is during a holiday when traffic is congested due to Greeks traveling the roads.

Siesta

Posted in Pace of life tagged , , , , at 4:19 pm by expatdiane

The first thing you will find is just how different the pace of life is in Greece, compared to that in the states. Like in many countries that run along the Mediterranean, the Greeks like to observe an afternoon siesta, and the business day includes a two to three hour lunch break for this very reason. Different parts of Greece may vary when it comes to the hours of siesta time. For Example, local business hours are as follows: On Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, most businesses open at 9:00 AM and close at 3:00 PM for rest of the day. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, most businesses open at 9:00 AM, close at 3:00 PM and then reopen at 5:30 PM and close at 9:00 PM. Sundays are a day of rest. Supermarkets, restaurants and taverns stay open throughout the day. Also, during the months of July and August all merchants stores are closed on Saturdays due to vacation time here in Greece.

There are a number of reasons why siesta time may have been put in place. It has been said that Greeks are family oriented and use this break in the middle of day to spend time with family. Greece also has a huge night life and those who go out take the the opportunity to rest up for their long evening ahead. The majority of businesses in Greece are privately owned and operated and as such, the break is set aside to rest in order to be able to return to finish out the work day. Whatever it was that has brought on the siesta, it doesn’t seem to effect some parts of Greece like it does in others.

Housing

Posted in Housing tagged , , , , at 4:16 pm by expatdiane

In cities here in Greece, people live over each other and not spread out. The majority of people live in rather small apartments and it is not likely that you would find wall to wall carpeting in any home. Instead, you will find area carpets used during the winter months. Tile floors are the norm throughout a Greek home, with wooden floors in the bedrooms. Stairs are very popular in home buildings and are usually made of Marble (Greece is rich in marble). Having small homes, which, even if they are not ancient, seem to be in constant need of some sort of enhancement. The drive to make more and more space out of tiny living areas is a national mania and that doesn’t stop inside the house. Gardening is also an obsession for Greeks, who have raised the practice of creating small gardens on their balconys that are usually not even large enough to place a table and chairs on.

In Greece, people don’t bother much with exteriors; there isn’t much exterior to a Greek home. The entire property, yard (if any) and all, is most often enclosed behind a tall brick wall that presents a blank face to the public street. The street may be dirty and rutted, but inside, there is a tidy little courtyard planted with flowers and plants. It makes no sense to most Greeks to toil away attempting to make a little bit of the outside world pleasant and clean. It’s an uphill battle for one thing, and for another, it’s the inside that matters.

Name Change

Posted in name change tagged , , , , at 4:11 pm by expatdiane

If you get married in Greece and would like to change your last name, this came done at the American consulate. All one needs to take in is their marriage certificate and passport. A stamp is then added to one of the back pages of your passport showing your new name. This only takes a few minutes.

Having a child in Greece

Posted in Children, Having a child in Greece tagged , , , , , at 4:09 pm by expatdiane

If you are an American citizen and have a child in Greece from a Greek national you must register the birth locally and then again at the American Consulate. When doing so the child automatically gets dual citizenship. It is very easy as long as you have all the paperwork needed and your child must accompany you. The application only takes a few minutes to complete and your paperwork is then turned in. Within a week, you will receive your child’s American passport and within a month you will receive your child’s social security card.Paperwork needed to register your child:

1. Marriage certificate of parents.
2. Birth certificate from the Greek registrar’s office bearing the full name of the child.
3. Certified copy of all final civil divorce decree if either parent was married previously.
4. Evidence of American citizenship of the parent. If only one parent is an American citizen, evidence that the parent has met the physical presence requirement to transmit citizenship, prior to the birth of the child (the U.S. citizen parent must have been physically present in the U.S. for at least five years, two of which were after the age of 14. Documents that may serve as evidence of physical presence, includes: old passports, school transcripts, income tax records and social security itemized quarterly earning statement records.

To apply for a passport for your child, you need:

1. A signed passport application
2. Two identical photographs.
3. Parents consent

**Check with the American Consulate office for fees regarding registration**

Special notice regarding paperwork:

***A very important thing to remember when moving here. If you have ever been divorced, you must bring with you your divorce decree and be sure it is translated in Greek. This form will be needed when applying for marriage and/or anything that has to do with your child, even if that child was not from your previous marriage.

A New Mattress

Posted in Day to day life tagged , , at 3:49 pm by expatdiane

bedframe.jpgThis afternoon I went to purchase a new mattress for our bed. My husband refused to come along, since last week, I was indecisive as to whether we should get a new bed or just a new mattress. Well, after seeing the beds offered at Media Strom and the costs for them, I decided on just a mattress.

The bed we have is about fifteen years old and is made the old fashion European way. The frame is made of wood and on the bottom, there are 2 x 4’s that lay across to complete the bed frame. You then lay your mattress on top of the boards and that completes the bed. It doesn’t feel very comfortable but that’s where a good mattress comes in.

Once I arrived, I was greeted by the sales person who walked me through the store showing me the most expensive items in the place. Funny how some things are International. When I told her I was only looking for a mattress, she walked me over to the best mattresses they had. There were two samples side by side and she told me to lay on them to test them out. I examined the mattresses carefully and even unzipped them only to find that they were filled with a foam-like material. They were very comfortable but they were not very durable. At that point, I quickly moved away and proceeded to the “real” mattresses that were not only less costly but more durable. They had about 15 samples and I tested about five of them while the sales lady watched giving me her opinion on what she thought was best for me. After testing the first three, they all starting feeling the same. So I picked the one I wanted and an order was written out.

The sales lady did not speak any English and with my minimal Greek and some sign language, we understood each other quite well. But like with every Greek person I encounter, the question of “why don’t you speak Greek fluently” always comes up. When it did, I told her it was a very long story and I just left it at that.

September 13, 2007

The Evil Eye

Posted in Superstitions tagged , , , , , at 9:40 am by expatdiane

This is by far the most famous of all Greek superstitions with very old roots in Hellenic culture from the time of paganism. Paintings of Greek triremes over two thousand years ago have an eye painted at the front of the trireme in an attempt to ward off the Evil Eye. The Evil Eye is known widely throughout Greece and the Greek Islands. The Evil Eye is said to be able to strike anywhere without notice and no one can be the wiser.Think back to a time when someone complemented you on how nice you looked only for you to have a painful headache immediately after. Happenings such as this are attributed to the Evil Eye.

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To ward off the Evil Eye several things can be done. An eye is painted into the middle of a blue charm, this charm is then worn as a necklace or as a bracelet. Blue beads can also be worn instead of the eye charm in the form of a necklace or bracelet. The reason the color blue and the painted eye are used is that both are thought to ward off the evil of the eye. Unfortunately people who have blue eyes are thought to be exceptional givers of it. In such, believers of the Evil Eye are weary of compliments received from a blue eyed person.

It is also said that a clove of garlic has the ability to ward of the evil eye. Many people keep the clove of garlic in their clothes or in their pockets.

It is customary for Greeks to spit towards someone if they pay them a compliment. Sometimes they will spit three times, a symbolism of the using of the Holy Trinity to defend against the eye. This custom of spitting has its roots in the Evil Eye. The spitting is an attempt to ward of the evil of the eye.

The Greek Orthodox Church also believes in the evil eye, and they refer to it as “Vaskania”. There are people who are said to know how to remove the eye from someone who is affected. The Greek Orthodox church strictly forbids this. The church sees this as dangerous ground, and only a priest has the power to read a person in an attempt to remove the eye. However, Greeks openly practice the removing off the eye against the wishes of the Church. The church fears that attempts to remove the eye can result in possession. Believers of the evil eye should understand that the person who is attempting to remove the eye should be using the method that the church uses, and not some custom that has been passed down generation to generation. Many of the readings that are passed down have their roots in paganism and do not adhere to Orthodoxy, the church attempts to guard against these readings.

Watch out for that Evil Eye!

A Parent’s Curse

Posted in Superstitions tagged , , , at 9:38 am by expatdiane

“As long as you have the blessing of your parents it does not matter even if you live in the mountains.”

This is an indication of the value that is placed on the blessing of a parent towards a child in a child’s life. It is considered a very bad omen in one’s life if they lose the blessing of a parent.

What the saying basically says is that don’t concern yourself with where you live, concern yourself with your parents blessing. In such, it is better to live in the mountains then to not have the blessing of a parent.

In Greek superstition a curse of a parent is considered dangerous, especially a curse of a mother. Be sure to check the Greek superstition surrounding the losing of the blessing of a parent “The Danger of a Parent’s Curse”.

The danger of a Parent’s Curse

Posted in Superstitions tagged , , , , , at 9:37 am by expatdiane

Traditionally Greek families tend to be very close, and there usually exists strong bonds between all members of the near family and the extended family. Greeks place a very high respect on elders and younger children will often call elders “Aunt” or “Uncle” who are not blood relatives out of respect.

Parents have an even greater respect placed upon them. It is customary for Greek children to ask the blessing of the parents, for example in marriage as to not have it is considered dangerous.

The Greek Orthodox church places a great value in parents, and in the up bring of their children into a Christian life. In such, it is believed that disrespect towards a parent that has done a great deal for the child is considered shameful.

Each man or woman is considered to have two fathers the physical father, and God. The same can be said indirectly that each man or woman has two mothers one being the patron saint of Mothers the Virgin Mary and your mother. Therefore disrespect of your physical parent is thought to transcend to disrespect towards God.

This is where the superstition falls in. It is believed by some that a curse of a parent will take effect as it will fall on the ears of God, who will pull his protection away from the disrespectful child. This is called in Greek a “Parahorisi”.

There are two forms of Parahorisis one is for the Good as is the case with gifts from God such as being able to see Prophesy (St. John the Evangelist), smell myrrh (Jacob) etc. The other form of Parahorisis is the feared form which can result in the worst case Possession.

Either way it is believed by some that a curse will take effect if it said by a parent. For example if a parent curses a child to never be successful in their life, if the child never amounts to nothing it will be attributed to the curse.

The most dangerous curse is said to not be from a father but rather from a mother. The mother is said to have a special bond with the child as the child is carried in the mother’s womb for many months. If the mother curses the child it is believed that the child must have been extremely disrespectful, and will be punished.

In fact, in no circumstance is disrespect towards a parent acceptable. It is believed that we can pay for disrespect in this life as much as in the next. God is said to be all seeing rewarding those who are righteous and punishing those who are not. In the case of disrespect towards a parent the punishment is said to come sooner, and then later as well!

Take a look at a Greek Folk Tale which warns you to avoid the curse of a mother: The Good Bee (A tale about how a mother’s curse should be feared, and her praise most wanted.)

The Good Bee

Posted in Superstitions tagged , , , , , , , , at 9:35 am by expatdiane

Along time ago the Turtle, the Spider, the Wasp, and the Bee were all brothers. The Mother that they all shared became very sick and on her deathbed she called for her children. She was sure that all her children would rush to her side as she had been the best mother the world had ever seen.

Ehen the Turtle heard of his Mother’s illness he said, “I’m to busy now I’m washing my clothes my Mother can wait.” Upon hearing this the Mother became very angry and threw a curse on him saying, “May you and all your descendants where your washing board on your back.” In this manner the Turtle came to have the shell it wears on its’ back.

When the Spider heard of his Mother’s illness he said, “I’m to busy now I’m weaving a great weave my Mother can wait.” Upon hearing this the Mother became very angry and threw a curse on him saying, “May you and all your descendants weave, weave and may you never create a weave that will last for time.” In this manner the Spider came to create beautiful webs that would not last the test of time. Webs that would always to be destroyed by passer by’s or a strong wind.

When the Wasp heard of his mother’s illness he said, “I’m to busy now I’m creating something in the mud.” Upon hearing this the mother became very angry and threw a curse on him saying, “May all you create turn into poison.” In this manner the Wasp cannot create anything that appears of value.

When the Bee heard of his Mother’s illness he said, “Oh my poor dear Mother I must rush to her side she has been so kind to us.” The Bee at the time was baking bread and ran to his Mother with the flour still on his hands. The Mother upon seeing her only good child praised the Bee and from her heart she said, “May you and all your descendants create the sweetest products so that all may eat from you.” In this manner the Bee was blessed to create honey so that all may eat from its’ blessed hands.

It is said, “That nothing is more dangerous than a curse of a mother, nor nothing more lucky than her heartfelt praise.”

Tuesday

Posted in Superstitions tagged , , , , , , at 9:34 am by expatdiane

Tuesday is considered the unluckiest day during the week for the Greek people. It was on this day on Tuesday May 29th, 1453 that the unimaginable happened and the city of Constantinople fell to the Osman Tribe, the “Ottoman Turks”. It is often said that businesses that open on this day have a black mark against them, and many Greeks who believe in this superstition will not venture into a new business on a Tuesday.

The the number 13 is considered lucky by Greeks in the setting when it stands alone as can be seen from the previous weeks writing, see The number 13.

However, when Tuesday and 13 are placed together they are considered unlucky in the Greek culture. So Greeks will watch out for Tuesday the 13th not Friday the 13th. It is the combination of the date “Tuesday” with the number “Thirteen” that is considered very unlucky to the Greek people

The number 13

Posted in Superstitions tagged , , , , , , at 9:33 am by expatdiane

The number 13 on its own is not an unlucky number in Greek culture. The opposite is often considered true by many Greeks, that is that the number thirteen is considered to be lucky. Some areas in Greece say that the number 13 represents the 12 apostles and Christ with Christ being the 13th member. The number 13 cannot be that unlucky as we should not forget that Greece won 13 medals in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Greece’s best medal showing ever!

In most western cultures Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day, to Greeks this day is not considered unlucky. Greeks who have accepted this as an unlucky day are Greeks of the diaspora who have integrated a non-Greek superstition into their superstitions.

In the Greek culture it is Tuesday the 13th of the month which is unlucky. It is the combination of the date “Tuesday” (: on a Tuesday of May, 1453 Ad, Constantinople (Istandbul) fell on the hands of the Turks) with the number “Thirteen” that is considered very unlucky to the Greek people.

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