- Book Signing
- The Prika – the all important dowry
- Two Greek Languages?! Isn’t one bad enough?
- The Greek Dead Do Not Stay Buried – No, Not Zombies!
- The Greek Struggle for Education
- The Kalamatiano – Why it is the national dance of Greece
- What Me Worry? – Not Without My Beads
- When No Means NO – How Greeks Helped Save Democracy
Category Archives: Uncategorized
Dowries – the all important “prika”. The dowry or prika is a woman’s share of the inheritance but it is given at her marriage, not on the death of the parents. It is important in the selection of a mate. The bigger the prika, the more choices a woman will have. For a long time no prika meant no marriage. Brothers were expected to help earn the prika and not marry until all the sisters were happily married off. Could be hard on younger brothers. In more recent years “politithas” or “city girls” whose brothers were sometimes partying away their prikas in the tavernas, began earning their own prikas. Old Greek movies are rife with prika tragedies.
In my book the dowry comes into play for some friends – especially Paraskevi, the youngest of many daughters in a family with no sons. Was she condemned to spinsterhood?
Here are links to buy the book: $20 print, $4.99 ebook.
At the time we lived in Greece it came as an unpleasant surprise that there were two languages: the Greek daily spoken language called Demotic, and an artificial official language called Katharevousa.
After 400 years under the Ottoman Turks, when the Greeks finally won their independence back, some leaders decided they should somehow get rid of all Turkish and Byzantine influence and go back as far as possible to ancient Greek. A scholar made up the language. But language is a living thing and you can’t legislate it. People went on speaking Demotic Greek.
But government officials used Katharevousa in official proclamations, and newspapers published in it. Its use seemed pompous and deliberately trying to cut off ordinary folks from their government. Kids learned Katharevousa as a second language in school beginning about fourth grade. It was finally abolished by Papandreou when the colonels were kicked out and democracy restored in 1976.
The language books I had bought in the states to learn Greek turned out to be mostly Katharevousa – totally useless. Our dictionary was a mixture and therefore undependable. The two languages were like Old English versus what we speak today. Sometimes it could be useful. An example “white house” like the one we lived in was “aspro spiti”. The White House (inWashington) was the official “lefkos oikos”. You can see how vastly different the languages were. What was intended as a patriotic gesture turned out to exclude people from those controlling their lives. It’s a hard enough language to learn so I am relieved there is just one Greek now.
The Greek dead do not stay buried. No, they don’t turn into zombies, they are acknowledged in regular ceremonies for three years. In the mountains at each of these ceremonies the family would cook whole kernels of wheat sprinkle it with sugar and dried fruit, then put it into paper cones they would give away to everyone. We often enjoyed the delicious “death wheat”. After the three years end, the bones are dug up and tossed in a “boneyard”, so the grave is ready for its next occupant. Think about it. For thousands of years in a country that is mountainous and arable land is at a premium, if the Greeks hadn’t developed such a custom there would be no place to grow food for the living! In my book I wrote about a scary discovery of the village boneyard.
Here are links for those interested in buying a copy of the book “It’s Greek to Me”. Print is $20, ebook version is $4.99
Greek names. The oldest boy in a family is named after the paternal grandfather. The second son is named after the maternal grandfather. The oldest girl is named after the maternal grandmother, the second daughter after the paternal grandmother. So you see it can take some time and effort to introduce a new name to a family. It also means all first cousins have the same names. Greeks handle that by freely bestowing nicknames. The nicknames can derive from physical characteristics like our neighbor Cross-Eyed Nikos or Tall Yianni. Or they can derive from a profession such as Nikos the Barber or Yianni the Fisherman.
One major exception is during WWII in defiance the occupying Nazis, many Greeks named their children Eleftheros or Eleftheria. That means freedom or liberty.
Here’s a peek at the table of contents of “It’s Greek to Me”.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 – A Brave Old World
Chapter 2 – Vourvoura
Chapter 3 – Louis and Thia
Chapter 4 – The Day That David Invented the Doorknob
Chapter 5 – Celebrations
Chapter 6 – From Stones Bread
Chapter 7 – Ta Pethia (The Children)
Chapter 8 – Gypsy Invasion
Chapter 9 – Different Pipes
Chapter 10 – No and Long Live, The Goveernment Comes to Vourvoura
Chapter 11 – Hell With Company
Chapter 12 – Wedding
Chapter 13- Wanderings
Chapter 14 – Rocks of Ages
Chapter 15 – Where Shepherds Walk
Chapter 16 – Hollywood Comes To Vourvoura
Chapter 17 – War Scars
Chapter 18 – Estrangement and Reconciliation
Chapter 19 – Gypsy Child
Chapter 20 – Gal Friday
Chapter 21 – The Mani
Chapter 22- After They’ve Seen Pareee…
Chapter 23 – Spies
Chapter 24 – Ferries and Islands
Chapter 25 – Nikki
Chapter 26 – Dimitri
Chapter 27 – To Kill an Octopus
Chapter 28 – Revolution
Chapter 29 – Plowing
Chapter 30 – Tarsa
Chapter 31 – Kalo Nero (Good Water)
Chapter 32 – Saturday Night Bath
Chapter 33 – Yianni Day
Chapter 34 – Papoo
Chapter 35 – Island Christmas
Chapter 36 – The Elli
Chapter 37 – Swallow Days
Chapter 38 – Black Jim from Bad Rock
Chapter 39 – Nikki’s Bread
Chapter 40 – Scandal
Chapter 41 – Holy Week
Chapter 42 – Pascha (Easter)
Chapter43 – Valley of the Cherries
Chapter 44 – New Faces
Chapter 45 – Around the Island
Chapter 46 – Summer Bounty
Chapter 47 – Doug’s World
Chapter 48 – Nikki’s Night Out
Chapter 49 – Cross-Eyed Nikos Takes a Day Off
Chapter 50 – The Trees on the Acropolis
Chapter 51 – Making Wine
Chapter 52 – Vistors
Chapter 53 – Another Harvest
Chapter 54 – Sad Lovers
Chapter55 – Sophia Day
Chapter 55 – Foreign Invasion
Chapter 57 – School Days
Chapter 58 – Glendi (Party Time)
Chapter 59 – To Kill A Chicken
Chapter 60 – Archaia (Old Stuff)
Chapter 61 – Nuptials
Chapter 62 – Clean Monday
Chapter 63 – Departure
I am about to publish a new book called “It’s Greek to Me – a young American family lives with rural Greeks before there was an EU and discovers a powerful ancient way of life.”
It is a vivid description of life in Greece under their infamous colonels. First in a tough mountain village in the Peloponesus where the Spartans once lived and then on an Agean island where life was gentler.
It will be out in about two weeks and will be available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or directly from me. The print copy will cost $20. and the ebook will cost $4.99 and will be available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.
It comes complete with a photos.
This was a third world Greece before it was Eurotrashed.