Greek traditions, customs, and superstitions are still in the lives of many Greeks, some of them date back to ancient times but, most of them are related to religion. Greek culture includes also festivals that are celebrated each year in the whole country. Below you will find a list of Greek traditions, customs, superstitions, and festivals.
Name Day Celebration
Most Greeks names their children rather than their grandfather’s name or the name of a Saint. Especially when it matches to Greek Orthodox calendar. A name day is celebrated more than birthdays, when it comes to everyone they wish you”hronia pola’ or live long in translation.
When a young couple is dating and in their plans is marriage, then they engage first. Men are asking the daughter’s hand from the father and then they are planning for the wedding.
When a child is born it doesn’t have a name until it is baptized. One of the differences between the Orthodox church with the Catholic church is that the priest is putting all the body of the baby into oil during the ceremony.
Carnival in Greece is celebrated each February or March. The word carnival comes from the Latin word carnem levare or carnis levamen and means” Stop eating meat. However, the world-famous Carnival or Apokries in Greek, has its roots elsewhere, in ancient Greece and specifically in the traditions of the ancient Greeks to honor Dionysus, God of wine and celebrations. Satyr, masks, and disguises were the common customs of our era.
It is the Thursday of the Carnival period before the 40 days lent. Tsikno means the smell of meat, and pemti is Thursday. On this day everyone eats meat and usually, all restaurants are full. A tradition that most Greeks love!
Clean Monday or Kathara Deftera is the first day of Lent (Saracosti in Greek). On this day families go to the countryside for a picnic and to fly kites. Also, this day is a holiday in Greece.
Easter in Greece is so special and interesting. Celebrations and customs differ as they are too many in the whole country. On holy week most people avoid eating meat because of lent, on holy Saturday everybody lights a candle. The whole country is meeting friends and family on Easter Sunday and says Christos Anesti which in English means Christ has risen For more info see here.
Greek Independence Day (25th of March)
Greek independence day is the day when the Greek revolution against Ottoman rule started, it was inspired by the French and American revolutions. A military parade on that day takes place in Athens, also it is a religious celebration dedicated to the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary.
The Ohi Day
On October 28th, 1940, Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas refused Mussolini’s ultimatum to let the Italian troops to invade Greece, with this action the country was involved in world war 2. His refusal inspired the Greek people to resist heroic the Axis countries for 216 days when most parts of Europe were already under German occupation. On that day,military parade takes place every year in Thessaloniki.
The Evil Eye
Many believe that one person can “look” at another either out of envy or excessive admiration. The “spotted” feel bad physically and psychologically. To avoid the evil eye, those who believe in it wear a blue bead or a blue bracelet. Conservatives say that the color blue drives away the evil eye. In addition to beads, another way to protect yourself from the evil eye is to hang garlic in a corner of the house. For many the top and most common of prevention and superstition.
New Year’s Entry to a House
Greeks believe that on the first day of the year in a house, or when a new store has opened everyone should enter only with the right leg for good luck. This is one of the strong traditions in Greece.
Many believe that “spiting” banishes evil and bad luck. For this reason, when they hear about unpleasant events that happened to others, they spit three times on their body. Also, many times, to prevent the evil eye, when someone admires a baby or compliments, he repeats “his” three times in the end.
Touch Red (piase kokkino)
The expression piase kokkino comes when two people in a conversation say the same thing at the same time they shout “catch red”. Then they both have to find a red object next to them and touch it in order not to get into a fight in the future.
Another tradition says that you should not give a knife (or scissors) to someone by hand because if something like this happens, even by mistake, there will be a big fight.
Tuesday the 13th
In Greece, they believe the unlucky day is Tuesday the 13th, not Friday the 13th. On this rough day, many people cancel their transportations, decisions, plans, etc.
If you see a black cat on the street, it is bad luck. Small amulets in the shape of a cat are worn for good luck.
The pomegranate is a symbol of abundance, fertility, and good luck. They had been hanging a pomegranate at home since the autumn. After the Great Liturgy of the New Year(see more), they threw it with force on the threshold to break it into a thousand pieces and said: “ Happy new year! ”