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There is a long list of things that are specific to Greeks. Like being able to know your mom just pulled out a batch of gemista out of the oven. While there are many things about Greek culture that are known around the world, others are simply typically Greek. Here is a list of things we are pretty sure Greeks and anyone familiar with Greek culture will understand.
“All you need is a dash of this and a handful of that, mix it all together and you’re done!” If you ask a Greek mother to give you her recipe for baklava, you can be sure you won’t find any set measurements. While this may be slightly confusing and frustrating, your best bet is to simply ask her to show you how to make it. Or simply watch a video on YouTube.
In Greece, the tradition is that the eldest children get their names from their grandparents. This often creates duplicates, where cousins of the same gender may share the same name. As such, it is not rare to find yourself in class or working with three Giannis and two Katerinas. Or Marias, because as you might expect, it is one of the most popular names for girls in Greece.
Feta cheese is omnipresent in Greek cooking. The simplest and actually best way to have it is crumbled on a piece of bread with olives and a tad of olive oil. But you will find feta cheese practically in any staple dish and even if it is not included in a recipe, it goes perfectly with it. Don’t believe us? Just try!
Greek mothers, the base of society, are known to be overprotective, even with their adult children, and to overfeed them, even if they are overweight. They pour their souls out to their family and strive to make every family gathering perfect. But one thing they excel at is to make guilt-tripping comments when something you’re doing doesn’t please them. Things like “You don’t love me anymore” when you just came back from university to your hometown and are heading out to see your friends or “That’s what you are wearing?” when you are getting ready to go out but she doesn’t like your outfit are all common sentences you will hear from any Greek mother.
Orthodox Easter in Greece is a true celebration across the country. And while in the rest of the world, children look for eggs, in Greece, people crack eggs at dinner. Tsougrisma is a traditional Easter game which symbolizes the resurrection and new life. Greeks dye Easter eggs red to represent the blood of Christ while the shell of the egg symbolizes the Tomb of Christ. As such, the cracking of the egg is meant to symbolize Christ’s resurrection and his victory over death.
Since most Greeks have names associated with a saint, this saint’s day is basically a reason to celebrate. And since Greeks are champions when it comes to partying, it is usually celebrated in a big way, either with a huge meal where friends and family are invited or even in a restaurant.
No matter how old you are, there is one thing you can be sure will never change: there is no such thing as a secret. In fact, any business is everyone’s business in a Greek home.
Greeks simply love to eat and food is an excellent way to bring people together. Therefore, offering food to anyone or inviting someone you barely know for dinner is common. And a word of advice for foreigners: never reject an invitation to dinner or food offered at a restaurant. Greeks take it very personally.
For any non-Greek, don’t freak out, we do not really mean actual spit. In Greek culture, dry spitting is a way to ward off any form of evil or negativity. This is often done when seeing a baby or a little child, or on special occasions such as weddings.
It doesn’t matter if you had a big breakfast or simply if you had a quick lunch a few hours before. A Greek mom and/or yiayia (grandma) will always offer you something. Whether it is a piece of moussaka or pastitsio or simply a portion of baklava to go with your coffee, there is no way to escape it.