Local customs in Greece: often dating back thousands of years to the time of Homer, author of the Odyssey and poet of the time. Regional traditions that will charm you and make you forget what your name is. Wow. The truth is, Greece has really managed to preserve its festive, community and territorial traditions, and that’s really cool if you’re going to do your work placement in Greece. So, for your work placement in Europe, be ready!

Symbolic rituals in Greece

Greece is a country rich in traditions and symbolic rituals that are deeply rooted in its history and culture. Here are some of the best-known symbolic rituals in Greece:

  1. Breaking plates: This ritual, known as ‘sirtaki’, is often associated with joyous celebrations, particularly weddings and feasts. Participants throw porcelain plates on the ground to symbolically break evil spirits and bring good luck.
  2. Traditional dances: Dancing is an integral part of Greek culture. Traditional dances such as the sirtaki, syrtos and hasapiko are performed at various festive occasions and gatherings. These dances are accompanied by traditional music, usually played on instruments such as the bouzouki, lyre and clarinet.
  3. Throwing wreaths into the sea: This tradition is often associated with Epiphany, a religious festival celebrated on 6 January. A priest throws a cross into the water and young men dive in to retrieve it. Whoever manages to catch the cross is supposed to receive a special blessing for the coming year.
  4. Lighting candles: Lighting candles in churches is a common practice in Greece. The faithful light candles as a sign of devotion, prayer and respect for saints and religious icons.
  5. Celebrating names: In Greece, everyone is named after an Orthodox saint, and it is common practice to celebrate the feast day of their patron saint. These celebrations often include family gatherings, prayers, festivities and meals.
  6. Malocchio”: This ritual is linked to the belief in the “evil eye”. To protect oneself from the malocchio, amulets are generally used, such as the ‘mati’ (a pendant in the shape of a blue eye), or gestures to deflect the evil spell, such as spitting three times or making the sign of the cross.

These symbolic rituals are deeply rooted in Greek culture and bear witness to the rich history, beliefs and spirituality of the Greek people. They add a unique dimension to the country’s traditions and festivities, creating unique and memorable experiences for locals and visitors alike.

The most original custom!

Greece is a country rich in unique traditions and customs. One of the most original customs in Greece is the “sirtaki” at weddings.

The sirtaki is a traditional Greek dance that became world-famous thanks to the film “Zorba the Greek”. At Greek weddings, it is common for guests to form a large chain by holding each other by the shoulders and dancing the sirtaki. This dynamic, festive dance creates a joyful atmosphere and encourages everyone to join in the fun. It is a custom that symbolises the celebration of love and union.

Another original custom in Greece is that of smashing plates during certain celebrations, particularly weddings and feasts. This tradition, known as ‘lempesis’, involves throwing porcelain plates on the ground to express joy and chase away evil spirits. It creates an impressive and lively visual spectacle.

The custom of the ‘martisor’ is also interesting in Greece. This is a small red and white brooch or bracelet worn in early spring to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits. The martisor is often given as a gift to mark the start of the season and symbolise rebirth and vitality.

Finally, the custom of ‘smashing the pomegranate’ is unique to Greece. At weddings, the newlyweds are invited to smash a pomegranate against the ground to burst the seeds. This symbolises prosperity, fertility and good luck for the newly-married couple.

These original customs reflect the cultural richness and deeply-rooted beliefs of Greece. They add a touch of folklore and charm to the celebrations and help to perpetuate the country’s ancestral traditions.

Birthdays in Greece, a patron saint tradition

In Greece, birthdays are generally celebrated with joy and enthusiasm, but the tradition and importance attached to these celebrations can vary from person to person.

In Greek culture, the name bearer’s patron saint is traditionally celebrated on his or her birthday. Birthdays are often closely linked to the celebration of the feast day of the saint corresponding to the person’s first name. This gives rise to family gatherings, festive meals and exchanges of good wishes to mark this special day.

On birthdays in Greece, it is common to hear the song “Chronia Polla”, which means “many years” in Greek. This traditional song is a way of wishing the birthday boy or girl a long life and a happy birthday.

As in many cultures, birthdays in Greece are often marked by a birthday cake adorned with candles. Traditionally, the birthday boy or girl blows out the candles and makes a secret wish. The guests accompany this moment by singing the traditional song “Sto Diko Sou To Stoma”.

Birthdays in Greece are also an opportunity to exchange gifts and wishes. Gifts can vary from material objects to symbolic gestures, and wishes generally express sincere wishes for happiness, health and prosperity in the year ahead.

Birthdays are often celebrated by bringing family and friends together for festive meals. These gatherings provide an opportunity to celebrate together and spend quality time together. Birthdays are seen as precious moments for strengthening family ties and friendships.

It should be noted that birthday practices can vary from region to region and from family to family in Greece. Some people attach great importance to these celebrations and celebrate them in a more elaborate way, while others may adopt a more sober approach. On the whole, birthdays in Greece are joyous and meaningful times to celebrate life and show affection for loved ones.

Greek festivities

Greece is renowned for its many festivities, which mark different occasions throughout the year. Here are some of the major Greek festivities:

  1. Orthodox Easter: Easter in Greece is one of the most important festivities of the year. It is marked by religious rites and traditions, as well as popular festivities. People attend midnight mass in churches, light candles and share a traditional Easter meal of roast lamb and lamb soup.
  2. Carnival: Carnival in Greece is a festive period preceding the start of Orthodox Lent. Towns and villages organise colourful parades, street performances, costume parties and traditional dances. The Patras carnival is particularly famous, attracting thousands of visitors every year.
  3. St John’s Day: St John’s Day, also known as Midsummer, is celebrated on 24 June in Greece. People light bonfires on beaches and in parks, singing, dancing and jumping over the flames to purify their souls and ward off evil spirits.
  4. Feast of the Assumption: The feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is an important religious celebration in Greece, taking place on 15 August. People attend masses and religious processions, and many coastal islands hold festivities with fireworks, dancing and feasting.
  5. Greek bank holidays: 25 March is Greece’s bank holidays, commemorating the start of the Greek War of Independence in 1821. Military parades, patriotic speeches and celebrations take place throughout the country to honour this historic event.
  6. Festival of Athens and Epidaurus: Every summer, the Festival of Athens and Epidaurus offers a series of theatrical and musical performances at historic sites such as the Acropolis theatre in Athens and the ancient theatre of Epidaurus. It is a major cultural event that attracts artists and spectators from all over the world.

These festivities are just a few examples of the cultural and social life in Greece. They reflect the richness of Greek tradition and culture, and offer locals and visitors alike an opportunity to celebrate, have fun and share joyful moments together.

Do you know other Greek customs? Would you like to do an internship in Europe? An internship in Greece? Contact us, we’ll be delighted to hear from you!

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