Archive for 'Culture'

The ritual of the Holy Light

Posted on 27. Apr, 2016 by in Culture, Customs, Videos

By spbda under a CC license on Flickr

By spbda under a CC license on Flickr

Easter is the most important religious holiday in Greece. The Greek culture is rich in traditions and rituals followed during the Holy Week. This post is about the ritual of the Άγιο Φως (Holy Light or Holy Fire) which takes place on Saturday night before Easter Sunday.

This ritual, which is considered as a miracle by the Orthodox Christians, takes place in the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem (the Greek word for the city is Ιεροσόλυμα, in the plural) in the place where Christ was resurrected from the dead. The local authorities enter the tomb of Christ and make sure that there is no source of fire and they have the door sealed with wax. Afterwards, the Patriarch (Πατριάρχης) prays and a blue light comes off the tomb in an atmosphere of reverence. The light is given to the representatives of the other churches, Russians, Armenians and Copts for instance, and then to the pilgrims. The Patriarch is meticulously searched by the authorities in order to make sure that he doesn’t carry any source of fire.

The light arrives in Greece by a plane and is transported to the church “Metropolis of Athens” (Μητρόπολη Αθηνών) and to the Greek churches. At the service of Holy Saturday, it is given to the people. At midnight, the priest chants the Χριστός Ανέστη (Christ has risen) hymn and gives the light. Traditionally, the candles to carry the light are white but most people, especially children, carry decorated candles (λαμπάδες) which are given to them as Easter present by their godmothers. They say Χριστός Ανέστη and give each other the kiss of love (το φιλί της αγάπης). When they arrive home, they form a cross with the smoke of the fire at the transom of the door. The people who have a small altarpiece at home put the fire there and keep it lit until the following year.

It is obvious that for some people this is a miracle but for some others it is just fraud. In spite of what people believe, it is the most important ritual that takes place in Easter and has lasted for many centuries.  Even people who are not religious go to church that day as all this is an old and cherished cultural and social event.

If you ever visit Greece on the Orthodox Easter, this ceremony is worth seeing, even though the churches are crowded, because it is part of the Greek culture.

By Nina A.J. under a CC license on Flickr

By Nina A.J. under a CC license on Flickr

To talk, to discuss: Greek vocabulary

Posted on 23. Mar, 2016 by in Culture, Vocabulary

By N Stjerna under a CC license on Flickr

By N Stjerna under a CC license on Flickr

Most people believe that the Greeks are extroverted and talkative. Even though this is not always the case, it is true that most of us enjoy spending a lot of time talking with friends. In this post you may find some basic vocabulary related to speaking. Enjoy!

  • απαντάω= to answer, to reply

Τη ρώτησα αν θα έρθει στο πάρτι αλλά δεν απάντησε.= I asked her if she would come to the party but she didn’t answer.

  • αποκρίνομαι= to answer, to reply

“Τι μεγάλα μάτια που έχεις, γιαγιά!” είπε η Κοκκινοσκουφίτσα.

“Για να σε βλέπω καλύτερα”, αποκρίθηκε η γιαγιά.

“What big eyes you have, grandmother!” said Little Red Riding Hood.

“All the better to see you with”, replied the grandmother.

  • κουβεντιάζω= to discuss

Της αρέσει να κουβεντιάζει με την Ηλέκτρα.= She likes discussing with Electra (literally)

  • λέω= to say

Η Μαργαρίτα δεν είπε τίποτα για την αδερφή της.= Margarita didn’t say anything about her sister.

  • μιλάω= to speak

Δεν μιλάνε ελληνικά με τους γονείς τους.= They don’t speak Greek with their parents.

  • ρωτάω= to ask

“Ξέρεις τι ώρα είναι;” ρώτησε ο Αλέξης.= “Do you know what time is it?” asked Alexis.

  • συζητάω= to discuss

Συζήτησαν για την αλλαγή του κλίματος.= They discussed about the climate change.

  • φλυαρώ= to blabber

Το παιδί φλυαρούσε ασταμάτητα σε όλο το ταξίδι.= The child blabbered continuously during the whole trip.

  • φωνάζω= to shout, to yell

Όταν ο Μίλτος έχει άδικο φωνάζει.= When Miltos is wrong he yells.

  • ψιθυρίζω= to whisper

Γιατί ψιθυρίζεις; Κανείς δεν κοιμάται.= Why are you whispering? Nobody’s sleeping.

By talaakso under a CC license on Flickr

By talaakso under a CC license on Flickr


Ιδιωματισμοί / Idioms

Δε βάζει γλώσσα μέσα του/της= to talk somebody’s had off / (literally: He / She doesn’t put his/her tongue inside)

Πάει η γλώσσα του/της ροδάνι= to talk somebody’s had off / (literally: His / Her tongue moves like a spinning wheel)

Μιας και το ΄φερε η κουβέντα= speaking of which


Παροιμίες / Proverbs

Η γλώσσα κόκαλα δεν έχει και κόκαλα τσακίζει.= The tongue breaks bone, though itself has none.

Μεγάλη μπουκιά φάε, μεγάλο λόγο μην πεις.= Eat a big bite but don’t say big statement.

Τα πολλά λόγια είναι φτώχεια.= Least said soonest mended.

Τα λίγα λόγια ζάχαρη και τα καθόλου μέλι.= Speech is silver, silence is golden.

By foilman under a CC license on Flickr

By foilman under a CC license on Flickr







Music vocabulary in Greek

Posted on 29. Feb, 2016 by in Culture, Music, Videos, Vocabulary

By dalbera under a CC license on flickr

By dalbera under a CC license on flickr

At the moment, Greece is sliding into one of the most serious humanitarian crisis, in its modern history. For some of us who are incurable dreamers, the only antidote is art.

In ancient Greek mythology, the god Apollo (Απόλλων) was the leader of the Nine Muses (Εννέα Μούσες) who were nymphs associated to arts:

Ερατώ (Erato): erotic poetry

Ευτέρπη (Euterpe): lyric poetry

Θάλεια (Thalia): comedy and idyllic poetry

Καλλιόπη (Calliope): epic poetry

Κλειώ (Clio): history

Μελπομένη (Melpomene): tragedy

Ουρανία (Urania): astronomy

Πολύμνια (Polyhymnia): sacred hymn

Τερψιχόρη (Terpsichore): dance

By Ian B Scott under a CC license on Flickr

By Ian B Scott under a CC license on flickr


The art of the muses was initially called μουσική (music). Later it took the meaning of music as we know it now and became an international word. The organic or instrumental music (οργανική μουσική) appeared for the first time in the 6th century BC.The most popular instrument was λύρα (lyre), a string instrument which was also a symbol of Apollo.

The Greek note names are: ντο, ρε, μι, φα, σολ, λα , σι (C, D, E, F, G, A, B).

List of musical terms:


αναίρεση (η): natural sign

αρμονία (η): harmony

βαθύφωνος: bass / contralto

δίεση (η): sharp

έγχορδα (τα):string instruments

ημιτόνιο (το): semitone

κλειδί (το): key: το κλειδί του ντο / του σολ / του φα: the key of C / G / F

κλίμακα (η): scale: μείζων κλίμακα, ματζόρε: major scale / ελάσσων κλίμακα, μινόρε: minor scale

κρουστά (τα): percussion instruments

μελωδία (η):melody, tune

μεσόφωνος: mezzo-soprano

μέτρο (το):meter

μουσικός (ο,η): musician

νότα (η) / νότες (οι): note / notes

παρτιτούρα (η): sheet music

πνευστά (τα): wind instruments

οκτάβα (η): octave

όργανο (το): instrument: παίζω / μαθαίνω ένα όργανο: to play / to learn how to play an instrument

ορχήστρα (η): orchestra

ορχηστρικός-η-ο: orchestral

παίζω μουσική: to play music

παραφωνία (η): discord

πεντάγραμμο (το): staff

ρυθμός (ο): rhythm

συνθέτω μουσική: to compose music

συνθέτης (ο): composer

συγχορδία (η):chord

τενόρος (ο): tenor

τραγουδώ: to sing




Below there is a video of  the piece of orchestral music Βροχή (Rain)  by Manos Hatzidakis, one of the most significant Greek composers.

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