Archive for 'Culture'

A touch of Greek Easter

Posted on 15. Apr, 2014 by in Culture, Customs, Videos, Vocabulary



The  countdown to Easter (Πάσχα, Pasha) , the most important Greek holiday, has already started.  The Easter traditions have been preserved  and are still followed by most Greeks, religious or not.  Some people, relate Easter to a big open air celebration with music, dance, and of course a meal that is composed of lamb and wine.  It is an opportunity to meet friends and relatives, to be joyful and careless and to enjoy the spring. Some others, relate it to the church service during the Holly Week and the devout Byzantine hymns of Holy Thursday and Good Friday. It is a period of love and forgiveness and the right moment to connect spiritually and emotionally with the others.


  • Some Easter Customs

Every Greek region has its own way and customs of celebrating Easter but some traditions are common.
Μεγάλη Πέμπτη (megali Pempti Holy Thursday) is a day full of colors and smells. People prepare  κουλούρια (koulouriα, Greek cookies) and τσουρέκι (tsoureki, Easter bread) and they dye and decorate  eggs, in a festive ambiance.  The tradition of decorated eggs is common in the Balkan countries.

If you want to go Greek this Easter, watch these recipes and make your own tsoureki and koulouria!

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Μεγάλη Παρασκευή (Megali Paraskevi, Good Friday) is a day of mourning. The Bier of Christ (Επιτάφιος, Epitafios)  which has been decorated with flowers, is transported in the streets and is followed by the believers.
Μεγάλο Σάββατο (Megalo Savato, Holy Saturday) people celebrate the Resurrection.  They go to church and at midnight they get  the Holy Light (Άγιο Φως, agio fos) by the priest, and they exchange greetings. They have decorated candles (λαμπάδα, lambada) and carry the light home.  It is the end of the forty days Lent.
Κυριακή του Πάσχα (Kiriaki tou Pasha, Easter Sunday) is a day of joy and happiness. Traditionally, people spend Easter with their family, they eat lamb, crack boiled red eggs,  and take a break from their everyday life.


  • Easter greetings and expressions

Καλό Πάσχα (Kalo Pasha, have a nice Easter)
Καλή Ανάσταση (Kali Anastasi, Anastasi= Resurrection)
Χρόνια Πολλά (Hronia polla)
Χριστός Aνέστη, Αληθώς (Hristos Anesti, Alithos Anesti): When the priest announces the resurrection of Christ, people spread the word by saying  “Χριστός Ανέστη” (Hristos Anesti) which means “Christ has risen”. The other person must respond by “Αληθώς” (Alithos) which could be translated as “indeed”.


Greece in fifteen questions

Posted on 25. Mar, 2014 by in Culture, Quizzes


In Greece on March 25 we celebrate the Independence Day and also the Annunciation to Virgin Mary of her conception. Instead of writing a post about a topic that can be searched on Wikipedia or on documentaries, I decided to make a quiz about Greece. Making a quiz about Greece is not easy and I always find it hard to think what comes to the mind of non-Greeks when they hear the word “Greece”. Is it sun, bouzouki and tzatziki? Maybe mythical creatures, and incest stories? Democracy and philosophy or just poverty and decadence?

Greece cannot be included in fifteen questions.  However, if you want to test your knowledge about Greece and whatever goes with it, and maybe to learn something you didn’t know, feel free to do the following quiz.  It is dedicated to all my students and foreign friends who make me see a new aspect of my country every day.


1.       Who is the god of wine?

a.       Apollo (Απόλλωνας)

b.      Zeus (Δίας)

c.       Dionysus (Διόνυσος)

d.      Pan (Παν)

2.       You cannot make tzatziki (τζατζίκι) without:

a.       Tomatoes

b.      bread

c.       Dill

d.      Garlic

3.       Pythia (Πυθία) is:

a.       The priestess of Apollo

b.      The Muse of  poetry

c.       The daughter of Venus

d.      A monster

4.       The first Constitution was voted in:

a.       1821

b.      1822

c.       1799

d.      1900

5.       The expression “between Scylla and Charybdis” (ανάμεσα στη Σκύλλα και τη Χάρυβδη / anamesa sti Skila kai ti Harivdi) means :

a.       To be possessed by daemons

b.      To have to face a difficult situation

c.       To have to choose between two beautiful women

d.      To not be able to navigate

6.       If you go to Plaka, in Athens, you won’t see:

a.       A solar clock

b.      A church

c.       A children’s museum

d.      An Opera

7.       The Greek doctor George Papanikolaou  (ΓεώργιοςΠαπανικολάου) discovered:

a.       The vaccine against polio

b.      The Pap test

c.       The elixir of youth

d.      The penicillin

8.       Which population never invaded Greece:

a.       Franks

b.      Venetians

c.       Persians

d.      Aborigines

9.       Kalamatianos (Καλαματιανός) dance consists of:

a.       7 steps

b.      12 steps

c.       16 steps

d.      No steps. Just get drunk and do whatever you like

10.   The Greek national poet is:

a.       Konstantinos Kavafis (ΚωνσταντίνοςΚαβάφης)

b.      Homer (Όμηρος)

c.       George Seferis (Γεώργιος Σεφέρης)

d.       Dionysios Solomos(Διονύσιος Σολωμός)

11.   Traditional mastic products are produced in:

a.       Chios  (Χίος)

b.      Limnos (Λήμνος)

c.       Amorgos (Αμοργός)

d.      Lesvos (Λέσβος)

12.   Which one of the following words is not of Greek origin:

a.       Nostalgia

b.      Melody

c.       Orgasm

d.      Algebra

13.   Which one of the following drinks cannot be found in a Greek tavern:

a.       Pisco (Πίσκο)

b.      Tsikoudia (Τσικουδιά)

c.       Ρακόμελο (Rakomelo)

d.      Ρετσίνα (Retsina)

14.   If you were a Greek god/goddess you would eat and drink:

a.       Ouzo and fish

b.      Honey and grapes

c.       Nectar and ambrosia

d.      Olives and water

15.   The Greek word for “freedom” is:

a.       Αγάπη (agape)

b.      Φιλία (filia)

c.       Ισότητα (isotita)

d.      Ελευθερία (eleftheria)

Answer Key:

1. a            6.d              11.a

2.d            7.b              12.d

3.a             8.d             13.a

4.b            9.b             14.c

5.b            10.d          15.d

If you are overwhelmed by a long winter, watch this video by Stian Rekdal.

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Let the kites fly, it’s Clean Monday!

Posted on 03. Mar, 2014 by in Culture, Customs, Recipes, Videos



Clean Monday (Καθαρά Δευτέρα, Kathara Deftera) is the first day of the Lent that lasts until Easter. It is called “clean” (καθαρά, kathara) because the Christian believers purify themselves spiritually and physically by eliminating the consumption of meat, eggs and dairy products and by abstaining from sin.


Each region has its own customs but generally Clean Monday is celebrated outdoors. This celebration is called κούλουμα (koulouma). People fly kites and have picnics. They eat special dishes such as seafood (θαλασσινά, thalassina), legumes (όσπρια, ospria) especially giant beans (φασόλια γίγαντες, fasolia gigantes), fish roe dip (ταραμοσαλάτα, taramosalata), vegetables (λαχανικά, lahanika) and an azyme bread called λαγάνα (lagana). As a sweet dessert, they eat a type of halva (χαλβάς).
In Athens the celebrations take place at the Philopappou Hill (Λόφος Φιλοπάππου, lofos filopapou). In 1990, the celebration is held under the auspices of the Municipality of Athens and many events, such as traditional Greek dances, are organized. Greek politicians, especially mayoral candidates, visit the hill and spend time with the citizens.



Words and expressions

  • Καλή Σαρακοστή (kali sarakosti): Happy Lent

“Καλή Σαρακοστή!” (kali sarakosti) Happy Lent!

“Επίσης!”  (episis) Same to you!

  • Καλά κούλουμα

Ο Δήμος Αθηναίων σας εύχεται Καλά κούλουμα.
(O dimos Athineon sas efhetai kala koulouma)
The Municipality of Athens wishes you kala koulouma.

  • Νηστίσιμος-η-ο (nistisimos): fasting

Τα φασόλια και οι φακές είναι νηστίσιμα φαγητά. (Ta fasolia ke oi fakes ine nistisima fagita)
Beans and lentils are fasting foods.

  • Νηστεύω (nistevo): to fast

Η Μαρία νηστεύει τη σαρακοστή. (I Maria nistevei ti sarakosti)
Maria  fasts during Lent.

  • Χαρταετός (ο) (hartaetos): kite

Αν βρέχει δε θα πετάξουμε χαρταετό. (An vrehei de tha petaxoume hartaeto)
If it rains we won’t fly a kite.

If you are a  giant beans lover, you may find a recipe here: YouTube Preview Image However, it is not fasting because it contains olive oil.

And this is a video of a ταραμοσαλάτα (taramosalata) recipe. Ταραμοσαλάτα (fish roe dip) is a must eat on Clean Monday. Be careful though because it has a lot of calories! Καλή όρεξη! (kali orexi) Bon appetit!

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