Aspects of Greek Culture: Aspects of Greek Culture The Living Tradition and Folklore Greek Identity: Greek Identity Greek identity is determined “not only by the inanimate structures that belong to bygone times but by the living tradition"
Ahrweiler-The Making of Europe
The problem of historical continuity, of succession, and of cultural heritage was posited quite squarely by and to the Greeks both before and after the period of national regeneration. Greek Identity: Greek Identity A synoptic term for the coherent nature of a conscious group, the word Hellenic, or Greek, was first defined by Herodotus. Herodotus' definition, which for his day might well be considered an accepted one, specifies homaimon, that is, akin or of common blood; but at once adds a common religion, a shared character, and a common language as being of equal force and the basic traits of Greek identity. Greek Identity: Greek Identity Evidence of participation in patterns of Greek life was determined not birth or Greek descent, but chiefly, by participation in a generally, Greek education which of itself allowed unimpeded access to works of Greek literature. Aspects of Greek Culture: Aspects of Greek Culture Due to the geographical formation of Greece, Greek folklore traditions are often highly localized with obvious distinctions between the various geographical territories.
However some elements are accepted at large, especially the ones related to the traditions of the Greek Orthodox Church Orthodoxia-Greek Orthodox Church: Orthodoxia-Greek Orthodox Church http://www.greekorthodoxchurch.org/history.html
Five Great Christian Sees: The Pentarchy
One Latin-speaking (Rome) in the West, and four Greek-speaking in the East: Constantinople, Alexandria (founded by St. Mark the Evangelist), Antioch (founded by Peter even before foundation of the see of Rome), and Jerusalem. Orthodoxia-Greek Orthodox Church: Orthodoxia-Greek Orthodox Church Under Sultan Mehmet II, the Turkish conqueror of Constantinople, Gennadios Scholarios, a learned Greek scholar of philosophy, was invested as the first Orthodox Patriarch under Turkish rule. Orthodoxia-Greek Orthodox Church: Orthodoxia-Greek Orthodox Church The Patriarch had his own court and preserved the old Orthodox liturgical ceremonial, but he was not permitted to retain Hagia Sophia which now became a Turkish mosque. Moreover, he was in all political matters directly subject to the will of the Sultan Orthodoxia-Greek Orthodox Church: Orthodoxia-Greek Orthodox Church The Patriarch of Constantinople was instrumental in preserving the Greek cultural heritage along with the Orthodox liturgical and ecclesiastical tradition.
However, when the Greek War of Independence finally broke out in 1821, the Patriarch did not openly blessed the movement. Orthodoxia-Greek Orthodox Church: Orthodoxia-Greek Orthodox Church As late as 1920 there were probably over 100,000 Greeks in Constantinople. But with the end of World War I and especially the debacle of the Greek army at Smyrna in 1922 after the Greco-Turkish War and the Asia Minor Katastophe (destruction of Hellenism) in Asia Minor, the fate of the Patriarch of Constantinople hung precariously in the balance. Orthodoxia-Greek Orthodox Church: Orthodoxia-Greek Orthodox Church In 1923, one year later, the Treaty of Lausanne was signed, according to which all of the Greeks in Asia Minor and most of the Turks of Greece were expelled. The sole exception to this exchange of population was the Turks of western Thrace and the Greeks living in Constantinople, both of whom were permitted to remain where they were. The treaty guaranteed the continued presence of the patriarchate in its historic home, Constantinople, unhampered by restraints or restrictions. The pact was signed by Turkey and Greece as well as France, England, Italy and the United States. Orthodoxia-Greek Orthodox Church: Orthodoxia-Greek Orthodox Church The "Statutory Law of the Autocephalous Greek Church" 1923
The few-membered Perpetual Synod was replaced by a supreme "Ecclesiastical Authority within the State", the Holy Synod of the Hierarchy of the Greek Church (article 2), which was to convene on a regular basis once a year on the 1st of October and exceptionally, whenever the need would arise. Orthodoxia-Greek Orthodox Church: Orthodoxia-Greek Orthodox Church The church was also given its freedom by the State in other matters such as ecclesiastical justice.
This law remains in force to this day.
The Orthodox Church of Greece, acknowledging our Lord Jesus Christ as its head, is inseparably united in doctrine with the Great Church of Christ in Constantinople and with every other Church of Christ of the same doctrine, observing unwaveringly, as they do, the holy apostolic and synodal canons and sacred traditions. It is autocephalous and is administered by the Holy Synod of serving Bishops and the Permanent Holy Synod originating thereof and assembled as specified by the Statutory Charter of the Church in compliance with the provisions of the Patriarchal Tome of June 29, 1850 and the Synodal Act of September 4, 1928.
Greek Constitution Article III Orthodoxia-Greek Orthodox Church: Orthodoxia-Greek Orthodox Church In 1964 Patriach Athenagoras and the Pope Paul VI met in Jerusalem, in the first meeting of pope and patriarch in over half a millennium. The result was the mutual annulment in both Rome and Constantinople on December 7, 1965, of the historic, mutual excommunications of 1054. Greek Orthodox Traditions: Greek Orthodox Traditions Christmas
Christopsomo or Christ Bread was/is the centerpiece of traditional Greek Christmas table, as well as large quantities of dried figs, nuts and honey.
Greek Orthodox Traditions: Greek Orthodox Traditions Singing carols from door to door is a tradition that is still widely observed even in city areas where the traditional heritage seems to fizzle out more quickly. Traditionally children sing from door to door as a way of announcing the arrival of the 12 days of Christmas, firstly offering their compliments to the house and residents and ending with requests for gifts, which in older days came in the form of sweets and biscuits, while nowadays cash - be it in drachmas or euros - is definitely more appreciated. Greek Orthodox Traditions: Greek Orthodox Traditions Greeks traditionally exchange their season's gifts on New Year's or Agios Vassilis' (St Basil's) Day. According to Greek carols and customs, it is this Greek Orthodox holy martyr, hailing from the depths of Asia, who has the lucky gift-giving task - not St Nicholas. In older days, families would place a large log in the fireplace for Agios Vassilis to step on as he slipped down the chimney with a bag of toys. And in some areas of Greece it was believed that Christ himself visited via the chimney to check on the preparations for the Christmas feast. Greek Orthodox Traditions: Greek Orthodox Traditions But in the main, the chimney was, and to some still is, the passage through which the cunning and quasi-sinister kallikantzari would arrive to cause havoc to naughty children, drunks and the lazy. The kallikantzari are imagined to be tall, black and ugly goblin-like creatures, with red eyes and hairy bodies. For Greeks, keeping the fire burning during the 12-day period from Christmas Eve through to the Epiphany on January 6 was once a way of keeping the kallikantzari at bay. Greek Orthodox Traditions: Greek Orthodox Traditions Easter, ‘Pascha’ in Greek, is the most sacred and celebrated of all Greek holidays. The word ‘Pascha’ comes from Hebrew and it means ‘pass over’.
Easter begins with a 40-day fasting, ending within the Holy Week during which a complete fasting diet is followed. No meats, dairy, fish, poultry or dishes that are prepared with these foods can be eaten. Greek Orthodox Traditions: Greek Orthodox Traditions The Greek Orthodox Church does not always celebrate Easter on the same date as the Catholic or Protestant Church does. The reason is that the Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar when calculating Easter. Greek Orthodox Traditions: Greek Orthodox Traditions Good Friday
Most shops and businesses are closed and flags are flown at half-mast in commemoration to Christ. On Friday evening the coffin of Christ is decorated with gold cloth and fresh flowers, where the faithful bow and stoop to kiss the symbolic body of Christ. After this follows the procession of the ' Epitaphios' which is carried out of the church and paraded through the streets in a lengthy funeral procession. Epitaphios: Epitaphios Greek Orthodox Traditions: Greek Orthodox Traditions 'Anastasi' - resurrection is the most important day of the Easter calendar. At midnight all the lights are extinguished in the church and the priest comes from behind the doors of the altar carrying a candle. He walks to somebody in the front row and lights their candle, this person with his pass the light from candle to candle and the light fills the church. The light is a symbol of the resurrection. Everyone kisses one another and say 'Christos Anesti' - Christ has risen, 'Alithos Anesti' - truly He has risen. The candle is carried back home, taking care the flame is not extinguished. At the house 3 crosses are made with the flame above the entrance door, in order to bless the house and its inhabitants by the light of Christ's resurrection. It is also customary to light a huge bonfire in the churchyard to burn Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus Greek Orthodox Traditions: Greek Orthodox Traditions It is tradition after the mass, when the people go home they sit down and eat 'mageiritsa' a soup made of lamb's innards bringing the fasting to an end. After the 'mageirista' dyed red, hard-boiled eggs are brought to the table. The egg is a symbol of Resurrection, representing the emergence of Christ from His tomb to everlasting life. The red color signifies the blood of Christ. The tradition is that people rap their eggs against their relatives' eggs and the owner of the last un-cracked egg is considered lucky. Greek Traditional Costumes: Greek Traditional Costumes The costumes of Greece are a beautiful part of a very rich cultural history
Some of the characteristics of Greek folk costumes can be traced back to elements in ancient Hellenic and Byzantine costumes.
The costumes of the mainland and of the islands are different. Greek Traditional Costumes: Greek Traditional Costumes Women’s Costume from Mainland Greece: Women’s Costume from Mainland Greece Crete: Crete Greek Folk Dance: Greek Folk Dance Very little has survived to give us an indication of what ancient Greek dance or music was like. No secular music was notated during the Byzantine Empire.
Nikolaos Politis, the greatest Hellenic folklorist of all, documented and published the most extensive works of folklore traditions and customs.
Politis believed that a significant amount of present-day traditions were based on ideas that were virtually timeless, but were distinctive and unarguably Greek in the way in which they were expressed. Greek Folk Dance: Greek Folk Dance Greek dancing unites the Greeks to each other and reinforces the essence of community.
The circle dance has been danced in Greece since ancient times. Researchers have found many artworks depicting dance poses from the ancient and Byzantine periods which bear a striking resemblance to the Greek dances of today. Indeed, certain dances (see Hasapiko, Kalamatiano, Serra, & Tsakoniko, below) can be traced back hundreds or thousands of years. Greek Folk Dance: Greek Folk Dance Greek Superstitions: Greek Superstitions The Evil Eye
Matiasma, malocchio, mal de ojo. Greek, Italian and Spanish for the evil eye. Its modern presence can be felt most strongly in Mediterranean nations, as well as in India and the Spanish-influenced South American countries. Greek Superstitions: Greek Superstitions To most Greeks, those who cause matiasma are not bad people, though some do believe that only malicious, envious individuals cause the ailment. The afflicted become sluggish and nauseous and suffer from a feeling of “having something inside you” – a lump in the throat. Some believe that matiasma can kill or maim livestock, cause mechanical failure in machinery, even topple carts of fruit and brick walls. Greek Superstitions: Greek Superstitions Infants are especially susceptible. A young baby can die if the cure is not administered in time. Those who are aware of the dangers of praise often spit after paying a compliment. They may make a spitting motion or sound when offering praise to a newborn, or mutter “let it not be bewitched.” Greek Superstitions: Greek Superstitions For adults, matiasma is not usually considered to be life-threatening. The cure – xematiasma – is relatively simple, though it varies from person to person, as does the manner of diagnosis.
If someone is afflicted by matiasma, a drop of oil placed in a glass of water sitting before the patient will dissolve rather than float on the surface.
The Greek Orthodox Church also believes in the evil eye, and they refer to it as "Baskania". Greek Superstitions: Greek Superstitions Never hand some one a knife. Set it down and let them pick it up, or else you will get into a fight with that person.
Greeks believe very much in the power of garlic to keep evil away. You will usually find beautiful braids of Garlic, or some huge, one of a kind head, dangling in the entrances of shops, restaurants and homes. It is thought that garlic not only wards off the evil eye but also keeps away evil spirits and demons. Greek Superstitions: Greek Superstitions Bread is considered a gift from God. No bread is ever thrown away. If it is not eaten in some way or another, it is fed to the animals - chickens or pigs, and even dogs, as it would be a sin for it to end up in the garbage and has to be consumed by some living creature. Greek Superstitions: Greek Superstitions Greek Orthodox priests are very revered. When greeting one, it is customary to kiss his hand or ring in respect. But it’s considered a bad omen to see one walking in the street, and most folk whisper ‘Skorda (garlic)’ under their breath. Greek Superstitions: Greek Superstitions Greeks spit for a number of superstitious reasons. The most common is to keep evil away from you. For example, if you hear of some one speaking of misfortune or bad news, and fear the possibility of the same thing happening to you, you would spit three times on your own person. Greeks say " Ftise Ston Korfo Sou" or loosely translated, spit on yourself/your cleavage. It wards off the evil from coming to you. Now I’m not talking about drawing from the depths of your throat… a simple little spray will do. Spit three times and remember …Ptew not Phtewwey. Greek Superstitions: Greek Superstitions Sometimes two people have the same thought and speak the same words at the same time. Take for example two girlfriends going out shopping together and stopping to admire a dress in a window. They both say ‘That’s Beautiful’ simultaneously.
Greeks believe this to be an omen that those two persons will get into a fight and they say to ‘Piase Kokkino’ or ‘Touch Red’ to avoid the argument. Both persons have to touch something that’s red, right then and there. Any item will do, clothing, food – anything. Greek Superstitions: Greek Superstitions Tuesday the 13th of the month that is considered unlucky in Greece and not Friday the 13th.
The Fall of Constantinople
Constantinople was so heavily defended by its' surrounding walls that even when it fell it was a surprise to the west. It was unimaginable that such a well constructed defense, the best ever in the world at the time could be breached. Greek Superstitions: Greek Superstitions 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. Greek Superstitions: Greek Superstitions 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. Greek Superstitions: Greek Superstitions 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. Greek Proverbs: Greek Proverbs God loves the burglar, but he loves the householder too.
''St. Nicholas, help me!'' - ''Give yourself a hand as well''. ~God helps him who helps himself.
Here the hens cackle, there they lay eggs. Greek Proverbs: Greek Proverbs You spoke to me differently, father, before you were ordained.
Manolios changed; he turned his clothes inside-out.
Pity the man who has no nails to scratch himself.
Expensive in barn and cheap in flour.
The building of the village was not yet complete, and the beggars arrived! More Greek Customs-Habits: More Greek Customs-Habits If you want to see a Greek church or monastery inside, you must be properly dressed. It's considered rude to enter a church if your shoulders and knees aren't covered. This rule goes for both men and women. More Greek Customs-Habits: More Greek Customs-Habits Since 1982 it has been legal to have a civil marriage. But still 95 % are married religiously in the church.
The rosary that most of the Greek men are holding in their hands, sitting outside the kafeneion (cafe in Greece), has no religious meaning, but is only a way of killing time Kompoloi: Kompoloi Greek Shadow Theater: Greek Shadow Theater From ancient empires (China, Java, and India, Persia) the peripatetic Shadow Theater crossed into the Ottoman Empire where he flourished as Karaghöz, (Dark Eye) the often bawdy, rowdy, character that's typical of the Turkish Karaghöz tradition.
When Ottoman Greece discovered Karaghöz and baptized him Karagiozis. Greek Shadow Theater: Greek Shadow Theater Greece is among the very few European countries that adopted shadow theatre, abandoning, however, its religious aspect and adding the provincial Greek culture's own uniqueness to it. Thus, shadow theatre slowly developed into an art form of its own kind, acquiring a Greek interpretation which also included music, acting and social satire incorporated with traditional folklore. Greek Shadow Theater: Greek Shadow Theater The themes of each "Karagiozis" play were adapted to various current social and political issues, as well as to historical events of Ottoman-ruled Greece. These historical "Karagiozis" plays were very popular in the past and during times of crises, as they lifted the audience's spirits and offered hope. Greek Shadow Theater: Greek Shadow Theater Through the main character, Karagiozis, a puppeteer would satirise authority figures and situations. Ugly and hunchbacked, Karagiozis represented the common folk, in a collision with everyone and everything unjust, whether it be a social or political injustice. He often pretended to be a man of all trades in order to find work and sought silly but cunning solutions to the various difficult and strange situations he'd get into. Karagiozis, the puppet character, is famous for his pranks, which he set up to tease those around him. Greek Shadow Theater: Greek Shadow Theater The Seven Beasts and Karagiozis
A comedy in four acts, it connects with the Hellenistic period though materials associated with Alexander the Great and the early Christian hero St. George, martyred in the fourth century. The play is known in ten versions; its popularity and the wealth of cultural information the versions provide suggest that the play can be conceived as a mythic statement relevant to the political life of Greece. Greek Shadow Theater: Greek Shadow Theater Karagiozis is the story of an outsider making desperate attempts to become assimilated into a world structured on concepts he neither relates to nor understands. It is suggested that perhaps the Karagiozis is the unwritten history of the Greek people trying to conform to the laws, customs, values, fashions and politics of Western Europe that had been imposed upon them by the countries that helped liberate them from the Turks. The Greeks with their own local traditions were trying to do things in a way that even though seemed superficial to them were essential to progress with the rest of the world Greek Shadow Theater: Greek Shadow Theater Greek Shadow Theater: Greek Shadow Theater