Growing up Greek outside of Greece sets you apart from others, like it or not. There are just so many things that define Greeks and growing up in a big, fat Greek family.
You think you are Greek and up on all the cultural trends? Let’s take a look at the top things that set Greeks apart from others, and see just how Greek you really are.
1. Do You Stock Pile Money?
Of course, you know you are Greek when your uncle owns a business, has maybe $500,000 in the bank, but still drives a ’76 Monte Carlo or better yet, doesn’t drive at all and walks everywhere to save money that would otherwise be spent on gas.
2. Do You Believe Paying Cash Ensures a Discount?
You can’t haggle prices outside of Greece the way you can inside of Greece. Cash is king in Greece so often you can get a discount on anything that you can imagine. So if you grew up thinking no goods have a fixed price and anything is negotiable, you’re Greek.
3. Is Eating is a Way of Life for you?
What do you mean you are supposed to eat only three meals a day? Tell that to your yiayia and watch her pull something out of the kitchen, place it in front of you and tell you to eat your fifth meal of the day.
4. What was in You Lunchbox When You Were a Kid?
Greek moms would never be satisfied sending their kids to school with just a sandwich, bag of chips and an apple. If you have ever been sent to school with dolmades, stuffed vine leaves, and tzatziki or a huge honking piece of moussaka, you’re Greek.
5. Do You Think Spitting is Good?
People spit on you for good luck and to get rid of negative forces that might be at work in the Greek culture. It’s more of a “ftoo, ftoo, ftoo” always in a succession of three.
6. Are You Weary of the Evil Eye?
A superstition shared by all Greeks is the evil eye, or “mati.” It is believed that someone can cast the evil eye onto another person out of envy (either good or bad) and jealousy.
You are said to be “matiasmenos” (the evil eye has been cast upon you) if you are dizzy or have a headache and yawn a lot. The good news is that you can have the “spell” broken by someone who knows how to do a special ritual done with oil, water and prayers.
7. Do You Believe You Can Tell Your Fortune in the Grains of Your Coffee?
What if you could tell your future from a coffee cup? It might sound crazy, but this is one of the many superstitions in which Greeks indulge.
Generations upon generations of Yiayias have been predicting the future of family members by looking at the coffee stains of their Eliniko café (Greek coffee). In fact, some Greeks believe in the fortune-telling of a coffee stain so much, they will base their daily lives on that morning’s cup of coffee.
8. How Many People named Eleni, Maria, Nikos and Dimitri Do You Know?
In every Greek family, as a tradition, you are named after your grandparents or other family members, resulting in a lot of duplicates per family. The movie “My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding” points this out quiet accurately when every other cousin in the family is named Maria or Nikos.
9. Is Your Name Day More Significant Than Your Birthday?
Speaking of names…Greeks cash in so big on their name days that are actually considered to be of greater importance than their birthdays.
How it works is that most Greek names have Saints associated to them, which means that when the day of your Saint comes up, it is your name day. In fact, every Greek person will have a name day to celebrate within the calendar year.
10. Can You Have an Entire Conversation with Another Greek Just by Using Expressions and Gestures?
Greeks do not need words to communicate – they have gestures. Some of the basic gestures are simple and easy to learn.
For example, a tilted head slightly down to the left and the eyes opening and closing slowly means ‘yes.’ Also, you might hear an occasional clicking of the tongue on the upper roof of the mouth with a head gesture looking like ‘yes.’ Don’t be fooled. This means ‘no.’ And lastly, when the face is centered, mouth pulled down and the neck stretched forward it means ‘I don’t know.’
A bonus gesture as illustrated in the photo above – the ever-so-famous hand gesture, the moutza. This gesture consists of spreading your fingers of one or both hands and presenting the palm or palms towards the person you wish to insult in a forward motion. Basically, it’s like flipping the bird.