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 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.

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.

Priests

Posted in Superstitions tagged , , , , at 9:27 am by expatdiane

The Greek people are a religious people with religion forming a part of their cultural essence. This has always been the case, even in ancient Greece the populations were very religious creating shrines throughout Greece, Cyprus and anywhere they colonized to their Gods.

In regards to respect of priests, it is customary for Greeks upon seeing one to go up to them and kiss their hands or even the cloth that they wear. Priests were as highly respected in ancient times as they are today.

However, just as in ancient times as today it was considered a bad omen to see a priest walking in the street. Upon seeing one Greeks may spit three times into their shirt. It was also considered bad luck to see a priest in the morning if someone had a handkerchief they may tie it until the day ended. In this manner any bad luck would be tied until a time when the chance of something happening would not be as likely.

Spitting

Posted in Superstitions tagged , , , , , at 9:25 am by expatdiane

It is customary for Greeks to spit to ward off evil. If a Greek hears bad news they may spit on themselves three times to ward of the possibility of anything bad happening to themselves. The person does not actually spit on themselves what they say is “Ptew, Ptew, Ptew” with very little spit actually being thrown down onto their chest. They may even raise their shirt and spit between their clothes towards their chest. Greek Fishermen may spit into their nets so that they will ward off any evil allowing them to get a good catch.

If someone compliments a Greek to avoid the Evil Eye they may spit onto themselves, and may say to the person “Ptew, Ptew mi me matiasis”, which basically says, “I’m spitting on myself so that you do not cause the Evil Eye to come upon me.” Spitting is believed to be very effective against The Evil Eye.

Even in the Greek Orthodox church during the rite of Baptism the priest will spit. When a child is baptized the priest will blow into the air three times to glorify the Trinity, and spit into the ground three times at the devil. The three times spitting is believed to come from this.