Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fun Facts About Greece

Of course, Greeks know how unique, timeless and rich they are as a 'culture', but what of those non-Greeks? How are they to know how cool it is to be GREEK?

We've compiled some fun and well-known facts about Greece to share a bit of the Greek culture with you, in case you are not privy to the WONDERS of all things Greek!

  • The yo-yo is the second oldest known toy in the world - and comes from the GREEKS (only the doll is older) It was born over 3,000 years ago in the days of ancient Greece.
  • Greeks are 'dancin' fools' - there are 63 different folk dances in Greece.
  • Cleopatra was Greek, not Egyptian - and a seriously tough cookie of a lady in her day, and responsible for a heap of accomplishments as ruler, or - female-Pharoh of Egypt..
  • Traditionally, Greeks have been known to celebrate their "name days", rather than their birthdays.
  • Americans should be familiar with this political piece of trivia: Greece is the birthplace of democracy.
  • Greek plays called “comedy” were written about ordinary people and often mocked leading politicians and personalities of the day - the forerunners of modern comedy shows like “Saturday Night Live”.
  • The early Olympic Games were celebrated as a religious festival from 776 B.C. until 393 A.D., when the games were banned for being a pagan festival because they celebrated the Greek god Zeus. The first modern-day Olympic Summer Games took place in 1896 and the host country, Greece, won the most medals with 47.
  • It's hilly, it's mountainous - it's GREECE! Did you know? 80% of the landscape of Greece is comprised of mountains. This means that Greeks must have great legs - (all the climbing, just saying...) and one half of the country is covered by forests and the other half is barren.
  • There are about 3000 islands in Greece. However, only a few hundred of them are inhabited.
  • Greece has an area of 131,940 sq. km., which makes it just slightly smaller than the size of Alabama. Sweet Home Greece!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Greek Speak

Have you ever wanted to impress your friends by speaking Greek? Imagine greeting your friends with “yia'sou” (hello) as they walk in to meet you at a Greek restaurant or a hip Greek bar and grill. At this point they may be somewhat amused but then you proceed to ask the waiter to “parakalo' (please) bring plates of ze'sti (hot) and cri'o (cold) mezzes”. Wow! All the sudden, you’re the life of the party!

The Greek language is fascinating as it has evolved over thirty-four centuries beginning with Proto-Greek (early second millennium BC), then evolving into Mycenaean (c 1600-1100 BC), Ancient Greek (c. 800-330 BC), Koine Greek (c. 330 BC), Medieval Greek (c330-1453) and culminating with today’s Modern Greek (from 1453), which is spoken by 13 million people. Modern Greek is the official language of Greece and Cyprus and one of the 23 official languages of the European Union.

For simplicity’s sake, we used Greek words here written with the Latin alphabet rather than the Greek alphabet (as we’re assuming you haven’t had a chance to learn that yet). Using the Latin alphabet is referred to as Greeklish (Greek and English) and was developed for online communication back in the day before operating systems could handle the Greek alphabet.

If learning Greek seems, well, a little “greek” to you, parakalo' (please) don’t despair. There are many great resources on the web – some of which are even free! So start practicing your conversational Greek and bring all your friends to Ziziki’s for a fantastiko' time.

**Note: the ' indicates the accent**

Friday, September 3, 2010

Greek Festivals – Fun for the Whole Family

If you’ve never been to a Greek Festival, you must put that on your “things to do before I die” list.

Your life will be vastly enriched as you stroll along tasting distinctive and super-rich Greek food, listening to upbeat Greek music and taking in the culture that is known worldwide for being rich in tradition.

A Greek festival is a tradition of culture and entertainment and is the perfect destination for great, family-friendly fun.

At Greek festivals you will typically find:
  • Greek gourmet food
  • Greek folk music - usually performed by Greek bands
  • Cultural exhibitions including artifacts from Greece and dances performed in costumes of old tradition
  • Dancing for the public under Greek tunes.
Additionally, and depending on local arrangements there are raffles and shopping for Greek jewelry, books, music, spices, etc. Many places also organize running races and other outdoor activities.

A Greek festival is an event that you should not miss! And do not worry, even if you can't dance syrtaki or hasapiko - you will still feel at home.