Sunday, 25 December 2011

Καλά Χριστούγεννα! Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas my Typical Greek family!

So what's a typical Greek Christmas like... where to begin? Well, Christmas eve preparations are likely to be hectic. Crazy. Loud. Stressful. As usual...! The aunties and women of the family will be frantically cooking and preparing everything ready for the big feast(s) on Christmas day. The kitchen will be madness; aunties screaming at each other they are making the melomakarona all wrong and insisting their way is better. They will then force feed members of the family with the typical Greek treats such as kourambiedes, baklava, melomakarona etc.

Christmas day will be crazy.. If you are the lucky family who won the argument to host the party this year then your house will be madness all morning preparing the feasts not forgetting the cleaning. Everyone has been told to get there by 2pm so in typical Greek fashion everyone arrives at about 4pm. The neighbours get irritated as the whole road gets blocked up by cars (at least they're mostly Mercedes, enen!) Then before you barely even walked through the door and kissed every person in the room on the cheeks, out comes the food. Then the alcohol, more food, some dessert, then some more food later on in the evening.

My goodness, it is loud... and as people drink more, it gets louder! Then the poor kids are dragged into the centre of the living room as Greek music is blasted out and they are forced to dance with yiayia and pappou whilst everyone is drunkenly cheering and clapping.

Now don't worry, there may be a rare down time where things are nice and chilled out for a while. If you manage to sneak in a cheeky nap you will probably soon be woken up by yiayia poking you and stuffing more food in front of your face. You may sit around and play a nice game of tavli with pappou or maybe some kounka? If you start betting with money it will get loud again though, be warned! The party will keep going all night long as let's face it, Greeks know how to party!

Thanks to all the TypicalGreek twitterakia family who kept us all entertained with their funny Greek Christmas experiences today!
I hope you have all had an amazing day and that it was full of food, music, shouting, alcohol, cards, family, food, food and food! 

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Oxi Day

Yesterday, 28th October marked the anniversary for OXI DAY! Our twitter followers did a great job in spreading the word and raising a bit more awareness on this special day for the Greeks.

A quick run down of what it is for those of who you maybe are a bit unsure or want to know more...

It's a massive celebration in Greece and Cyprus each year and is marked as a national bank holiday where there are parades and Greek flags everywhere!

It all started back in 1940 during the second world war, when the Italian dictator Mussolini, gave an ultimatum to the Greek prime minister Metaxas, to surrender or face war with the Italian army of 44 million against Greece's 7 million.

Ioannis Metaxas

Metaxas being the true proud Greek he was, said "OXI" meaning NO! Even though they were much smaller and didn't have as big an army as the Italians (since when has that ever stopped us!) the true Greek spirit came through and everyone echoed "oxi" hence "oxi day" celebrated on 28th October. This was a massive courageous act but also proved to the world that the Greeks would fight to the end to defend their country and their honour.

How it ended:
After a few weeks of battle, the Greeks managed to push the Italians back into Albania. The Italians were struggling against the Greeks despite their massive army and defenses, so they called in Hitler to intervene. 

The Greeks then fought the Germans for 5 long weeks; this delay is what ended up determining the outcome of WW2, woo go Greeks! Whilst the Greeks were giving the Germans a run for their money, the British were able to defeat Mussolini's army in North Africa and secured Cyprus too, opa! Because of the Greeks fighting so hard and delaying things, the Germans were also never able to gain control of the British or Russian forces which ruined Hitler's whole plan.

American 1942 poster supporting Greece.

Although this was an amazing thing the Greeks did by saying "oxi" that day, it came at a price and about 1 million Greeks lost their lives. Winston Churchill got it spot on when he said "Today we say that Greeks fight like heroes, from now on we will say that heroes fight like Greeks."

Hope you all had a wonderful "oxi" day and never lose that Greek fighting spirit!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Greek Glossary

Right, this is for all my special "3eni" readers and maybe even for the Greeks whose parents never forced their kids to go Greek school (shame on them!)

I am aware I throw in the odd Greek word in my posts and I feel it would be best to include a little glossary that you can refer back to, to help you follow along and impress your mates with your Greek-abulary. Also if you feel I have left out some vital words then please comment below and I will update this post regularly with new additions to keep this up to date!

OK so here we go:

3eni = (pronounced kseni) foreigners/non Greeks
Ade = let's go
Agapi = darling/love
Antropi = rude
Bouzoukia = an all night party with Greek music and drinking
Bravo = well done
Enen = isn't it
Fae = eat
Frappe = iced coffee
Gambro = husband
Icones = religious icons
Kapira = translated means toast. But can be used to mean plain, boring
Koukla = gorgeous girl
Koumera = best woman (what brides and best women call each other after the wedding)
Koumparo = best man (see above)
Levendis = gorgeous guy
Mafiozo = mafia member (most likely your family)
Malakas = idiot
Mangas = cool guy
Mati = evil eye
Mikakon = God forbid
Mish / mishimou = yeah right (sarcasm)
Nifi = wife
Opa = wahey!
Pantofla = slipper (usually worn by yiayias)
Pappou = granddad
Poushtis = gay boy
Poutana = whore
Poutos = p***y 
Ptu ptu ptu = spitting to avoid the 'mati'
Re = an informal/rude way of calling someone 
Skase = shut up
Stavro = cross
Tempela = lazy girl
Tempelos = lazy guy
Thea = aunty (can be used as a respect thing for non family members too)
Theo = uncle (see above)
Tsigaro = cigarette
Vouti = the act of dipping bread into juice
Yiayia = granny
Xorkati = villager
Zoumi = juice

Erm apologies for the crudeness of some of these but hey, I'm just keeping it real/Greek for ya! Will update this post at regular intervals when new words pop into my head! 

Thursday, 27 October 2011

The Typical Greek Guy

So... the Greek "dude". You can usually spot him a mile away! If he's not shouting "re malaga!!" at his mates/idiots cutting him up on the road, then he's identified in many other ways too!

He probably has his ears pierced. (Disclaimer, no idea who he is or if he is even Greek but he has that #Greekswag)
As I mentioned in a tweet recently, yiayia would tell him straight that he looks like a "poushtis", but he doesn't care as he thinks his a "manga". (sidenote, I am going to create a blogpost with a quick glossary of terms for these slang words so my "3eni" readers can follow along too!)

If he's not shaved his head (note: not bald, but shaven head.) then he has some long floppy hair thing going on, or of course the classic gelled spikey look. Again, yiayia will only approve of the natural curly look and continue to blunty insult his mullet. But don't worry, mama will think he's the most handsome son in the world whatever he looks like so it's all good.

Speaking of his mama, it's clear he loves her. Why wouldn't he? She cooks for him, cleans for him, washes his clothes and practically worships him. However, in her mind that gives her the right to stick her nose into his entire life and deem no girl good enough for him. In fact she would prefer to remain the only woman in his life! If one slips through the net she will spend her life insulting the girl and showing her up in the cleaning and cooking department. (It's a hard life having women fighting over who can look after him the most).

A Greek guy loves the gym and works on a clever rotational system of working the arms and then the chest. Sometimes he will even do the chest first and then the arms. 
When no one is looking he will actually kiss his bicep. When at the gym you'll probably find him checking out the odd girl in her boob tube running on the treadmill, but more often than not, he'll be sneaking a peak at the bigger guy working out next to him whilst envying his big muscles... But he will never admit that of course...

Finally, a Greek boy is usually well groomed on a night out on the town, with the top few buttons of his shirt open (well he spent ages shaving his chest, so it makes sense to show it off enen)
Don't know who this dude is either by the way, but I thought it was a classic example of showing off.. sorry of it is you or someone you know (very likely!). Anyway as this mangas is demonstrating, there is usually a big silver chain being sported as well. Finally, the Greek guy will pick up his mates rolling around in his bimmer/benz, and make sure his fancy car keys are on display when chatting to girls. Does he mention his dad paid for the car? Na, of course not!

The Typical Greek Girl version coming soon...

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Greek Bonding...

When Greeks meet another Greek in a crowd of non Greeks, there is an immediate bond between them. Even if you're in the supermarket and suddenly hear someone talking in Greek, you whip your head around to see who it is and smile! Sounds silly, but it is instinct; especially if you don't live in a Greek speaking country, obviously..!

Sure enough, if your name is on display somewhere or 'mikakon', is called out by a 3eno... (let's use the fun example of the doctor's receptionist struggling over how to pronounce it) then you know straight away who the Greeks are and I bet you find yourself looking up to spot them! Why do we do that? You find you give a chuckle to yourself and the fellow Greek watching on as your name is read out slowly like a 3 year old child. After a painful 30 seconds of struggling to read your name, the receptionist looks up so proudly that they think they managed to say it. You politely nod and smile even though they totally butchered your name, because we're nice people like that. Oh and yeah, we probably mumble a typical Greek curse under our breath on the way out...

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

A Typical Greek House?

So... having seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding (a few hundred times of course) and cracking up at the sight of the infamous house, I honestly thought they were just being a bit melodramatic for the sake of the film...

I enjoyed it; thought it was a funny touch! But, having been driving merrily down a road today I stopped at some lights and looked out the window... To my shock/delight(?) I found a very typical Greek house! People must have thought me slightly mad for grinning and pointing at this house to my passengers yelling, "wow look how Greek it is!!". I swear, this house was fantastic. It had the traditional massive Greek columns, it had the blue and white garage, it had the fancy ornaments and stained glass door (sorry if this happens to be your house I am describing by the way...!) I loved it!

I came home and decided to actually Google "big fat Greek house" for fun, and I found this and wanted to share it:

OK so the house I saw was a bit more toned down than this, but I still thought it was funny how it stands out so obviously, especially to the Greeks! And even funnier at how excited we get over it, or is that just me..?

So, what does your house have about it that makes it "Typical Greek?"

Monday, 30 May 2011

Greek Gardens

If you live in a Greek country then you probably grow a lot of your own food from your garden; typical Greek independence, living off the land!

However, if you are living in a different country, you probably have "Greekified" your gardens to make you feel more at home...

I bet you own your own vineyard. You like to sit out there in the summer, perfectly comfortable in the shade whilst drinking a nice cold Keo. Although it might not be the right climate to grow any grapes, you still have a nice full bush of vine leaves which the women love to pick off to make their koubebia.
You may also have your own fig tree. The men like to climb them to pick off all the nice juicy 'siga' and serve them to their guests as a nice post feast treat - proudly showing off that they grew them themselves.
And for those of you who might not have their own garden... I bet you still have a mini plant which grows oranges or something out on the balcony or kitchen window, just to keep that little bit of the Greek Garden with you!
Finally, if you don't have one already, get yourself a Jasmine plant to add the finishing touch of Greekness to your home! You can take a Greek out of Greece/Cyprus, but they'll just bring it along with them..!

Sunday, 15 May 2011



So last night was the Eurovision song contest and Greece did good! Bravo re Loucas! 7th place with 120 points is not bad!

Watch the Greek dance

I liked the fact that there were Greek columns in the background and there was some actual Greek singing as well as dancing!

Too many times in the past they stick to English and I think our Greekness ought to be celebrated more! It's a shame we didn't win, but maybe next year?

Did you know he was actually born and raised in Cyprus? Baffles me as to why he didn't enter for Cyprus instead... it's a shame they didn't get in the competition as well - Greek domination for 2012 Eurovision please!

Finally, thank you Cyprus for awarding Greece 12 points #typicalgreek loyalty right there!

For all you Greekies outside of Europe who may not follow this big event, and for those who do and want to know more, this page tells you more about our song and the reasons behind it along with some more footage from the show!

Tell us what you thought of Loucas' performance as well as the whole show below!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Kalo Pascha

So today is Easter Day! It's a celebration that Christ has risen again and everyone can finally break their fast and devour the much craved for meat! Did you know that the word Easter is come from the Greek word "pascha" which means passover (the eternal passover from earth to heaven)? Yeh, they stole that from us...

OK so last night after church and the soup, you may have had the EGG WAR! Sometimes this is done on Sunday mornings with your breakfast though...
Basically, you know all those dyed eggs that were made the other day? Well, now we get to break them! It's actually a lot of fun and of course is symbolic of life (everything us Greeks do is symbolic!) So everyone chooses an egg from the basket and people take it in turns to tap everyone else's. If yours doesn't break then you will have good luck for the year! Oh and watch out for cheeky yiayias who seem to know the trick of holding the egg in a perfect way that it's almost impossible to break... 

Onto the feast.. ahh! Well the men were probably up from 6am this morning lighting up the garvourna and getting the lamb on a spit. Once the clay oven is heated up, it can take the meat over 4 hours to cook! But man oh man, is it soft and tender... Just the smell alone is enough to torment everyone, let alone the fact that many have been deprived of meat for 40 days!

  140ld.jpg 6lkhc.jpg hz6fa.jpg co4mz.jpg
(Images courtesy of our twitter followers!)

Nothing goes to waste with the Greeks, the entire lamb is eaten; eyeballs, brains, tongues and all! The bones can be chucked to the dogs too... Greeks will eat like they have haven't eaten for months! The men will most likely have a plate of pure meat, forget the side dishes they just take up space. It's often a good idea to take a short break to allow your food to digest so you have space for more meat later on... and of course you will be having leftovers for the next few days as well. 

Kalo pascha everyone, I hope you all had an amazing day and enjoyed your meat binge!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

It's Holy Saturday

So last night was when Jesus died on the cross. Most Greeks got up early this morning to go to Church again, where we took a spoonful of wine from the priest and a small piece of bread; these symbolise the blood and body of Christ, a complete cleansing of your sins! If you don't get to the Church early (that means way before 8am) then you will find a massive queue to get to the priest!

Also this morning, the Greek men of the family took a trip to the butchers for all the meat they're going to cook up tomorrow. Now, if they were clever they would have got there before 6am so they would only take an hour to get served... unfortunately as the day goes on you will notice every Greek butcher has got a queue about a mile long outside their shop! Happy days for the butcher but all the best meat goes quickly.

(Disclaimer: if the sight of dead animals offends you I should warn you, you won't get on with Greeks very well and for your own sanity you probably should get off this blog too as you won't like what is coming tomorrow...)

Tonight at midnight, is when midnight mass takes place; basically it's the moment when Christ was resurrected. Like last night's event, everyone gathers at church with an unlit candle. The priest then distributes the Holy Light to everyone. If you can get home with your candle still lit then you will have good luck that year!

There is a huge celebration at midnight when Christ is resurrected! Then everyone goes home and has their mageiritsa soup (a lovely concoction of lamb organs). Obviously, this is the first bit of meat that most Greeks will have had in 40 days so people really tend to look forward to that!

Finally there is the egg cracking competition, but I will leave that for tomorrow's post along with the trunk load of meat...!

Friday, 22 April 2011

Good Friday - Megali Paraskevi

So today is the special Megali Paraskevi (Good Friday) where Jesus was crucified on the cross. It is a special weekend for all Christians around the world today, but the Greeks have their own way of celebrating this.

Yesterday was holy Thursday and is the special day for dying the eggs. Typically, they are meant to be dyed red which is the symbol and colour for life. Nowadays, we often like to have a variety of different coloured eggs:

These eggs will be saved for Sunday morning... more about that this weekend!

Tonight, many Greeks will make their way to church for a special service. All day yesterday, many of the women were working on something called the 'epitaphios' which is also known as the Bier of Christ, which is covered with flowers so that on Good Friday morning, it is ready to receive the image of the body of Christ when he is taken down from the Cross.

Good Friday is a day of mourning. The icon of Christ is taken down and wrapped in linen and put in the epitaphios, symbolising Christ in his tomb. Late on Friday night, this epitaphios is then carried around the town and everyone walks behind it on mass holding lighted candles taken from Church. 

It is a very emotional day, hence the more serious tone of this post. So many are happy having this day off as a bank holiday when really, it is something very precious that should never be forgotten.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The Grenglish/Greeklish Language

Grenglish or Greeklish, is a language that has developed by Greeks who don't necessarily live in Greece or Cyprus so they mix up their English and Greek! The best thing about it, is that there are no rules!! Words are often made up to sound "Greeky", and sentences are often mixed with both laugages. (NB some of these are known to be Cypriot slang!)

Read and observe some examples below:

Steki - Steak
Baso - Bus
Mersendez - Mercedes
Panjero - Pajero
Mangas - cool guy
Ketro - Kettle
Mobilo - Mobile
Itsorait - It's alright
Xaallo - Hello
Eniksero - I don't know
Tazijis - Taxi driver

Basically, people take the English work and "Greekify" it! It can be done with absolutely anything. Give it a go below!
Give me a word, aaaany word and I make it Greek for you!

You can also make sentences in Grenglish like this:

"Ela re, do you want to have some steki popse?"
"Vale to ketro pano, i want some chai"

"Aman, she's a right mounara"
"Look at him, he thinks he's a right manga, what a malaka..."
"Come on re, let's take my dad's Mersendez out and find some kopeles"
"Go pas to Facebook sou and find him"

And there are many, many, many more... I see people doing it all the time on twitter as well so I know you guys do it too!

What Greeklish/Grenglish words or phrases do you find yourselves using? Share them below!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Religious Mannerisms - let it rain!

Goodness me, signomi for not posting in such a long time!

Right, today's post is a continuation of the last post of Religious Mannerisms... I ended the last one with a preview of yiayia waking you up in her own special way; so here it is, much awaited for I'm sure.

Many Greek people have probably experienced this. You're having a well deserved lay in on Sunday morning (and by lay in that means it's probably only about 9am...). 
You are enjoying your nice warm, cosy bed and a pleasant dream. Randomly, you think you hear your bedroom door open and maybe a creek on your floor boards... but you ignore it and carry on in dream land, probably thinking about the upcoming souvla that day. 

Suddenly, you feel water droplets splattering over your face. You try to ignore it and keep dreaming, but it isn't stopping! You eventually force your eyelids open and let out an annoyed groan. Right in front of you, you see your yiayia standing over you dipping a bunch of leafy twigs into some water and splatting them all over your face. You try and shield yourself from the water but she shouts at you for doing that, as it's holy water and you should be grateful! 
Once you're up, she spins around and starts splatting around the rest of your room too. In your half asleep state, you sit and watch water marks appear on the mirrors, your paper work and letters on your desk get wet, and let's not get started on the state of your hair...

But at least you have been blessed! She will then waddle around the rest of the house and bless everything and everyone in it, even annoying your poor pet cat...

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Greek Religious Mannerisms

Greeks are very religious people, but it extends further than just going to church every Sunday and fasting every Easter. 

Have you ever been in a car full of Greeks or been driving next to one, and you suddenly see them all simultaneously and speedily start waving their arms from their heads to their chests, right shoulder and left shoulder, 3 times in a cross motion? Well don't worry, it's totally normal! We do this cross or "stavro" whenever we pass by a Greek Orthodox Church.
So if someone in the car isn't doing their stavro as they drive past the church, they might be in for a slap around the head to remind them to do it! It's a respect thing, and you feel strangely guilty if you don't do it... 

The stavro is also done whenever someone says something which you hope will never happen, or don't want to be cursed/jinxed. Here's a good example:

We also perform our own exorcisms (taken from the Greek word Exorismos). That's right... if we feel there is evil surrounding us, for example if things keep going wrong or we have had bad news, it's time to bless the house. We light up a kapnisis which is has a few lumps of coal and special dried leaves which burn creating a holy smoke. We run to each room in the house and do 3 anticlockwise circles around each religious icon in the room with it. People can be blessed also; they need to wave their hand 3 times over the smoke in an anticlockwise motion too, thus blowing the smoke towards them. Then of course, they do their stavro 3 times! (The symbolism of everything done 3 times, is for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in case you were wondering!) This ritual is also performed on peoples' birthdays and other special occasions.

Look out for the next post which involves being woken up by your yiayia blessing you with holy water...

Thursday, 31 March 2011

The Greek Goodbye...

So you have spent the whole day with your family, eating, drinking, dancing etc... You have been having in depth philosophical discussions about life, and had a good old gossip about your sister's neighbour's daughter's new job. You may even have gotten into a heated debate about personal family issues which resulted in lots of shouting and hand gesturing for hours on end! 

Finally, someone announces that the kids have got to get up early for school the next day, so they really should get going. They might call their kids down from playing upstairs and the kids shout, "just a bit longer papa!!". 
Eh, another 20 minutes won't hurt, so you carry on chatting away.

An hour later, you call the kids down again. You're not too bothered that they are still playing away as you carry on with your conversation.

Another half an hour later, you stomp up the stairs and manage to drag the kids down and get them ready to leave. Your hosts stand up and start to greet you out the door. You go around and kiss everyone in the house on each cheek saying your goodbyes. 

The front door opens and you stand in the doorway, only the conversation hasn't quite ended yet...

Another half an hour later you are still there all chatting away. Eventually, someone gets a little frustrated and walks towards the car. Everyone hugs and kisses cheeks again before you get the family in the car. You scroll down the window to say goodbye again and have another 20 minute conversation...

Yes the reasons Greeks end up staying at your house until the small hours is because the goodbye alone can take up half the evening...!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Ways to offend a Greek...

There are some sure fire ways to really offend a Greek person, and I'm not just talking about general things that everyone gets offended with, like someone stealing your parking space or someone telling you that you look fat... I'm talking about things that you wouldn't even think would be that bad, but to a Greek, it's a different story.

So a common one which many people fall into - is either not finishing your meal or not taking seconds.

That's right. If someone cooked for you (this could be a stranger at a restaurant or it could be your own family) and you to dare refuse to eat their food until it is all gone, then as far as they are concerned, you hated what they made for you, and that is really offensive. No matter how much you express how delicious it was, if there is any food left on your plate, they will quiz you on why you are refusing to eat their food, why you don't want seconds, what was wrong with it etc. Want some advice? Just keep eating... keep eating until there is nothing left.

Another offensive thing is to blatantly mispronounce a Greek's surname. 
Sure, some of our names can be hard to pronounce for a xeni, we get that. But when someone really takes the mick and makes a comment like "oh that Greek person, you know Chris Papadopolopodopolapolopogous.. or whatever their name is..." then it's a sure fire way to really offend a Greek. As crazy as our names are, we are strangely proud of them, so you no take-a the piss-a, ok?

Finally (for now) imagine this. You are sitting with a big loud Greek family all getting ready for a massive feast. You nab some potatoes, you grab some nice salad, you put a dollop of hummus on the plate and snatch up some pitta bread. The host then comes at you with a glorious, juicy, freshly barbecued bowl of meat...

...they smile at you pushing the dish in your face saying "fae fae" waiting for you to choose your favourite piece from the bowl that they have spent all day preparing for you... best way to annoy a Greek at this point? 

Tell them you're a vegetarian.

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