When in Greece… do as the Greeks do!
A guide to Greek daily habits and how to fit in
Wouldn’t it be a wonderful change, even for a while, to allow your inner self to give in to the Greek way of life and adopt some Greek daily habits?
How is it possible, you may wonder, that the Greeks have not lost their spirit despite all the challenges they have been facing? They always find a reason to celebrate and when they celebrate, they raise the roof. When they dance, they dance passionately and do not leave the dance floor until the early morning hours.
Part of the secret lies in the sun; having plentiful daylight fills you with energy and positive vibes so that is a promising start of the day. The vicinity of the sea works wonders too, but you probably knew that already. And when you visit the mountainous areas, the quaint little villages there have wonderful squares where everybody gathers during the ‘panigiri’. They celebrate the church Saint or they have a wine festival – you guessed it: they will find a reason to celebrate! The other important ingredient is the fantastic food. Wouldn’t you be happy if you could enjoy Greek food every day?
We decided to share with you three characteristic secrets of Greek daily habits and read how you can fit in!
1) When you greet someone…
Forget the polite, sterile handshake! When someone introduces you to his friend, they will grab your hand with both hands, shake it vehemently and continue with a bearhug, kiss you on both cheeks, followed by a slap on your shoulder, while exclaiming: ‘Yassou aderfe’ (Hello, brother). Try this at home and you will win every Greek’s heart!
2) In a tavern…
What to eat
Greeks go to that specific tavern that hosts locals; they must know some inside information about the kitchen, the origins of the products used or the value for money. If you are worried about not being able to read the menu, relax. This is the best way to connect with Greeks and they will love advising you on what to eat. Greeks rarely order from the menu at these traditional taverns as they usually ask the waiter for today’s recommended dishes. He will recite at high speed all the dishes and of course you cannot remember, so he will say it again. Do not worry if you still cannot remember: just point at the appealing dish on the table next to yours. While you are waiting for the waiter to bring you your food, your advisory committee will ask you where you are from, how long you will stay, whether you like Greece and what your plans are for the next evening! Feel free to ask just as many questions.
How to eat
You may have noticed that the other tables do not have one dish per person, but that there are many small plates on the table and everyone picks from each plate. These so-called ‘meze’ are inherent to Greek cuisine and it provides you with an excellent opportunity to try many different dishes and enjoy so many more flavours. Have you noticed the big slices of bread that are served with your meal? Break off a big chunk (now, don’t worry about all those crumbs on the tablecloth!) and dip it in the oil that was poured over your salad or in the oily sauce that comes with your meze. Yes, everyone dips their bread in the same bowl! Many may frown upon this habit, but it creates a very intimate atmosphere with the people you are eating with!
If you want to eat fish, it is very common to be invited into the kitchen where you will be shown the fish so that you can choose the one you like best. Don’t be shy!
And feel free to sit sideways on that chair, resting one foot on your neighbour’s chair and your elbow on the other chair next to you! Swinging back and forth on your chair’s rear legs is also quite common, but do this at your own risk.
3) In traffic…
Here, things can get a bit tricky as you may want to stick to the way you have learned to drive in your home country. Driving in Greece requires a certain amount of audacity, courage and determination. Flashing your lights to indicate that you would like to overtake someone is considered very common. If you are not aggressive enough, someone may show you his open palm and it is best not to react to this. In this case, don’t do as the Greeks do: just smile and continue your journey!
Have you already unleashed your inner Greek? Come to Greece and celebrate life like there is no tomorrow! Which other Greek daily habits have you noticed? Remember to share your experience with us…