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

Grocery shopping in Greek

Posted on 20. Apr, 2016 by in Vocabulary

By Ales "Skud" Bayley under a Cc license on Flickr

By Ales “Skud” Bayley under a Cc license on Flickr

In Greece most super markets (σούπερ μάρκετ) are rather small. Usually, they are open from Monday to Friday from 8:00 to 21:00 and on Saturday from 8:00 to 20:00. They are closed on Sunday. If you plan to go to a super market in Greece or  you just want to learn new vocabulary, in this post you may find vocabulary related to products and ten survival phrases that could be used in a Greek super market.

το κρεοπωλείο: meat department
το μανάβικο: fruit and vegetable department
τα αλλαντικά: cured meat products
τα γαλακτοκομικά προϊόντα: dairy products
τα τρόφιμα: food, groceries
τα δημητριακά: cereal
το ψωμί, οι έτοιμες ζύμες: bread, pre-made doughs
τα ζυμαρικά: pasta
οι κονσέρβες: tins
τα έλαια: οils
τα μπαχαρικά: spice
το αλάτι: salt
τα ποτά: drinks
τα ροφήματα: beverages
τα αναψυκτικά: soft drinks
τα βιολογικά προϊόντα: organic products
τα απορρυπαντικά: cleansers, detergents
τα εντομοαπωθητικά: insect repellents
τα είδη υγιεινής:personal care
τα καλλυντικά: cosmetics
οι συσκευές:appliances
τα παιχνίδια: toys
τα είδη γραφείου: stationary
ο διάδρομος: aisle
το καροτσάκι: trolley
το καλάθι: basket
ο,η υπάλληλος: employee
το ταμείο: checkout
ο, η ταμίας: cashier
ο πελάτης, η πελάτισσα: customer
η απόδειξη: receipt

Units of measurement

ένα τέταρτο, διακόσια πενήντα γραμμάρια: one quarter, 250 grams
μισό κιλό: half a kilo
τρία τέταρτα, εφτακόσια πενήντα γραμμάρια: three quarters (of a kilo), 750 grams
ένα κιλό: one kilo
ενάμιση κιλό: one and a half kilo
δύο κιλά: two kilos
μισό λίτρο: half a liter
ένα λίτρο: one liter

ένα πακέτο: a packet
ένα κουτί: a box
ένα μπουκάλι μικρό: a small bottle
ένα μπουκάλι μεγάλο: a big bottle
ένα βάζο: a jar
ένα σακουλάκι: a pack, small sack
ένα σωληνάριο: a tube
μία εξάδα: six pack
μία οχτάδα: eight pack
μία δωδεκάδα: twelve pack

Survival phrases
1. Συγγνώμη, μήπως έχετε…; / Excuse-me, do you have…? / are there any…?
2. Μπορείτε να μου ζυγίσετε αυτά τα φρούτα, παρακαλώ; / Can you weigh the fruits, please?
3. Δέχεστε πιστωτικές κάρτες; / Do you accept credit cards?
4. Συγγνώμη, αυτό το προϊόν έχει λήξει. / Excuse-me, this product has expired.
5. Είστε ανοιχτά την Κυριακή; / Are you open on Sunday?
6. Τι ώρα κλείνετε; / What time do you close?
7. Κάνετε διανομές στο σπίτι;/ Do you deliver at home?
8. Δεν χρειάζομαι σακούλα, ευχαριστώ. / I don’t need a bag, thank you.
9. Συγγνώμη, μου δώσατε λάθος ρέστα. / Excuse-me, you gave me the wrong change.
10. Μπορώ να αλλάξω αυτό το…; / Can I change this…?

By Michael Stern under a CC license on Flickr

By Michael Stern under a CC license on Flickr

How well do you know Greece?

Posted on 06. Apr, 2016 by in Quizzes, Travelling

Spiros Vathis under a CC license on Flickr

Spiros Vathis under a CC license on Flickr

Have you ever been to Greece? Is it a place that you know well? Do this quiz to find out.

1. If you want to visit the White Tower (Λευκός Πύργος) you should go to:
a. Athens (Αθήνα)
b. Heraklion (Ηράκλειο)
C. Thessaloniki (Θεσσαλονίκη)

2. A woman is not allowed to visit:
a. The Penninsula of Athos (Χερσόνησος του Άθω)
b. Meteora (Μετέωρα)
c. Our Lady of Tinos (Παναγία της Τήνου)

3. One can find nice beaches in:
a. Trikala (Τρίκαλα)
b. Tripoli (τρίπολη)
c. Sithonia (Σιθωνία)

4. If you want to taste olive oil of top quality you should go to:
a. Florina (Φλώρινα)
b. Kalamata (Καλαμάτα)
c. Athens (Αθήνα)

5. If you want to taste “αυγοτάραχο” (botargo, Greece’s caviar) you have to go to:
a. Mykonos (Μύκονος)
b. Messolonghi (Μεσολόγγι)
c. Crete (Κρήτη)

6. Who was Petros and where did he live?
a. A pelican who lived in Mykonos.
b. A fisherman who lived in Corfu.
c. A mythical dragon who lived in Crete.

7. The sponge harvesters are in:
a. Sifnos (Σίφνος)
b. Thasos (Θάσος)
c. Kalymnos (Κάλυμνος)

8. Nobody plays beach rackets in:
a. Gavdos (Γαύδος)
b. Zante (Ζάκυνθος)
c. Serifos (Serifos)

9. One who likes wildlife, especially birds, should go to:
a. Delos (Δήλος)
b. Prespes (Πρέσπες)
c. Andros (Άνδρος)

10. If you want to see remainings of byzantine castles, you should go to:
a. Mystras (Μυστράς)
b. Olympia (Ολυμπία)
c. Delphi (Δελφοί)

11. If you like volcanoes you can go to Santorini and to:
a. Rhodes (Ρόδος)
b. Nisiros (Νίσυρος)
c. Sikinos (Σίκινος)

12. You can see and ride a rare breed of horses in:
a. Lesvos (Λέσβος)
b. Skyros (Σκύρος)
c. Xanthi (Ξάνθη)

13. You can see a Venetian harbor in:
a. Hydra (Ύδρα)
b. Ikaria (Ικαρία)
c. Chania (Χανιά)

14. Ιf you like skiing, you can go to:
a. Sparta (Σπάρτη)
b. Pelion (Πήλιο)
c. Ioannina (Ιωάννινα)

15. Cars are not allowed in:
a. Spetses (Σπέτσες)
b. Aegina (Αίγινα)
c. Corinth (Κόρινθος)

16. If you want to practice naturism, you can go (among others) to:
a. Patras (Πάτρα)
b. Tolo (Τολό)
c. Corfu (Κέρκυρα)

17. Rapsani (Ραψάνη)is famous for:
a. its wine
b. its masticha liqueur
c. its frappe

18. The most ancient language in Greece is spoken in:
a. Samothrace (Σαμοθράκη)
b. Leonidion (Λεωνίδιο)
c. Πέλλα (Pella)

19. One of the most windy places is:
a. Volos (Βόλος)
b. Thebes (Θήβα)
c. Southern Evia (Νότια Εύβοια)

20. One of the biggest caves is:
a. The cave of Ithaka
b. The Cave of Astros
c. The Cave of Diros

Check you answers here: Greece quiz_key


Blok 70 under a CC license on Flickr

Blok 70 under a CC license on Flickr