December 1, 2007

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.

kalikatzaros.jpg

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 13, 2007

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 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.

Sneezing

Posted in Superstitions tagged , , , at 9:32 am by expatdiane

In Greek superstition if you sneeze it is believed that somebody is talking about you. Since you do not know who the person is you may try to figure out by saying out peoples names. If you say a name and you stop sneezing it is thought that that is the person who is talking about you.

Another way to find out who is talking about you is asking someone for a three digit number. You then add the three digits together and come out with another number. Using the final number you count down from the start of the alphabet. The number you get must be less then or equal to the maximum characters in your alphabet, in the Greek Alphabet this is 24, in the English 26. If it is more you count the numbers together once again to find a smaller number. The letter the number falls on is the first letter of the name of the person that is talking about you.

Two examples: (With any two numbers you will get the first circumstance (most likely), and rarely will you use the second.)
For the number 333. Add it together 3+3+3=9 . Now count down to ninth letter which is “I”. The person who is talking about you is thought to have a name beginning with “I”.

For the number 999. Add it together 9+9+9=27. In the English Alphabet there is only 26 characters so we add 2+7 together and get “9″. Now count down to ninth letter which is “I”. The person who is talking about you is thought to have a name beginning with “I”.

As you do not know who is talking about you, the person who believes this superstition may spit down three times on their chest to avoid something bad occurring to them via “the evil eye”. The use of the number three in all the above has to do with the holy trinity, and using it to help you both know who is talking about you as well as safeguard you.

Itchy hand

Posted in Superstitions tagged , , , , , at 9:31 am by expatdiane

In Greek superstition if you have an itchy hand it foretells that you are either going to receive or give money. If you’re right hand is itchy it indicates that you will get money. If you’re left hand is itchy it indicates that you will give money. If both hands are itchy then you will both give and receive money. In general the right hand is considered to be luckier then the left hand. For this reason it said that you receive from the right and give from the left. Your hand is said to be “itchy” as it anticipates the transaction that is to occur. In such your hand is said to prophesize the giving or taking of money. Further the right hand is thought to be holy and the left unholy. This is why you receive from the right, as in the case of money it is usually believed better to give then receive. The use of the “right’ can be further be seen in the Orthodox church, the Son of God sits to the right of the father, Orthodox leity cross with the right, etc.

The use of garlic

Posted in Superstitions tagged , , , , , , , at 9:31 am by expatdiane

It is customary for Greeks to use Garlic to ward off evil. Garlic is believed to ward off demons and evil spirits in the same manner that incense does. Demons and evil spirits are believed to fear it. Garlic can be worn in the clothes of an individual to ward off evil. If you find garlic hanging in Greek businesses or houses it is there for the purpose of warding off evil. Garlic is believed to be very effective against The Evil Eye.

The use of salt

Posted in Superstitions tagged , , , , , at 9:28 am by expatdiane

In Greek superstition salt is considered to have great powers as a purifying force. In such, it can be used to ward off demons and evil spirits by throwing it over your left shoulder. Similarly a new house can be purified by sprinkling it with salt to remove any demons or lurking evil spirits.

Salt can also be used to remove an unwanted guest, or a guest that has overstayed their welcome from your house. To remove an unwanted guest, salt can either be sprinkled on the chair of the unwanted guest, or thrown behind them. It is said that if the guest sees you throw the salt the power of the salt is weakened, and is not as effective. Watch out if they see you!

In some areas of Greece, another superstition tied to salt is that it should be covered in the darkness of the night. If the moon or the stars shine upon it, it is believed that the carrier of the salt will develop warts or a rash on their body. Salt and the darkness of the night do not interact well with one and other, as a result of this it is believed a rash will occur on the salt holder’s body.