you might want to be aware of before heading to your favourite holiday destination
1. The average Greek is a very sociable being who loves crowds.
No other country boasts so many and such varied coffee houses, cafétarias, tavernas, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and bouzouki places.
2. No matter where you go in Greece, having a coffee is a big deal.
It is said that the first coffee shop, or kafeneio, was founded in the 1820’s in the former Greek capital of Nafplion. When Athens became the capital of modern Greece in 1834, coffee houses popped up everywhere. Interestingly, originally only men would visit such establishments. Greek women only started going to cafés a few decades ago.
3. Greek mealtimes are as erratic as the Greeks themselves: lunch occurs any time between 1.30 and 5.30 p.m. and dinner is after 10 p.m.
4. A Greek cannot talk unless he has his hands free, and a soft-spoken Greek can be heard across the street.
Because they are so extravert in character, heated discussion on any current subject – usually about politics – flare up among complete strangers in the most unlikely places.
5. A mixture of tradition and superstition still permeates most aspects of Greek life.
For example, it is considered bad luck (not to mention bad manners) for the Greeks to not offer some kind of refreshment to anyone visiting their home, regardless of the hour of the day and the nature of the house call. And surely you’ve heard of the ‘evil’ eye that protects you from people who have negative thoughts about you? It’s still very much a thing.
6. Despite the Greek ‘machismo’, in 8 times out of 10 the wife and/or mother is the head of the family.
The truth is that the majority of Greek men play second fiddle, but they would rather die than admit it. Even middle-aged bachelors and well established home-owners return almost daily to Mama for a home-made meal and freshly-ironed shirts.
7. Although plates are no longer smashed in restaurants (a habit that was introduced to ward off evil spirits), the tradition still occurs today to mark the beginning of a new life chapter - during weddings for instance.
Although it has become more common for plaster plates to be used to mark such joyous occasions.
8. Greek modern culture produced two Nobel Prize winners in literature: Giorgos Seferis in 1963 and Odysseas Elytis in 1979.
Nikos Kazantzakis never won the ultimate prize although he was globally considered the most well-known and widely-read Greek writer.
There are several other writers who could have made quite an impact in global literary terms if their work has been written in a more widely spoken language. One such writer has a street named after him in our beloved Skiathos. The island’s main commercial street, in the heart of Skiathos Old Town, is appropriately called Papadiamanti Street after the influential novelist Alexandros Papadiamantis. You’ll also find the house he lived in until his death within walking distance of the port.
9. If you want a Greek to do something, you label it ‘forbidden’.
When the first load of potatoes was brought to Greece in the 1830s, the authorities wanted to get it to the famished population of Nafplion. For days there were no takers, as the people viewed the gift with suspicion. It was only when the Chief of Police ordered an armed guard around the mountain of sacks filled with potatoes, that the locals started serving themselves.
10. The Greek islands are often described as being heavenly – and some of them literally were, if you’re into mythology that is.
Quite a few Greek gods once strutted around the islands’ sandy beaches and enchanting hillsides, or found their true calling as expats from other corners of their mythical world. Crete, for instance, was the birthplace of Zeus, and the god Hephaestus landed on the island Lemnos after his mother Hera kicked him off Mount Olympus. Skiathos is said to owe its name to inhabitants of an ancient world that worshiped the god Dionysus or ‘Skianthios’, and named their island in his honour.
Dionysus, who is also the god of wine, continues to inspire local wineries with his spirit of hedonism. One of our favourites is Parissis.
According to other sources the island’s name comes from the words ‘skia’, meaning shade or shadow, and ‘athos’, referring to the holy mountain of Athos in the north of Skiathos. So basically Skiathos translates into ‘the shadow of mount Athos’, which might explain why the island is so popular among travelers who find themselves in need of some downtime away from the spotlights of their fast-paced life.