One symbol often associated with ancient Greece is the masks. Masks were popular in ancient Greek theater and a key element of plays by Sophocles, Aristophanes and more. The masks used in Greek theater have become iconic as symbols of cinema in the modern age.
Ancient Greek Mask Design
The masks were made by people called skeuopoios which means maker of the properties and suggests an important role. Their design was sometimes made incorporating helmets and a wig attached to it. In spite of what you might think the masks were made largely out of organic and natural lightweight materials such as linen, wood and cork, with human or animal hair woven in. The only holes in the masks were for eyes and mouth.
Masks were used in Greek cinema to allow the actors to portray multiple characters during the same show, as well as that, they meant that men (there were only male actors allowed on stage) were able to portray women on stage. The masks formed the basis for some classic plays and performances which have formed the roots of a lot of performance acting today, however, the masks themselves only tend to be used in modern day performances with a Greek theme and that are supposed to be a throwback to this golden age. Directors in theater are often torn regarding the use of these masks but there can be no denying that the imagery that they create can be a useful tool in portraying Greece and its rich history.
The use of masks was not only a performance thing but played a part in ritual and worship too. They were a part of the worship of Dionysus and used to represent important characters in rituals. A group may wear the same mask in order to represent one character in question.
In the modern age, as well as being used as icons for many theatrical and cinematic companies and entities, the ancient Greek mask has also led to a range of interesting items available for either fancy dress and costume or jewelry and artwork inspired by their image. Some beautiful ornamentation and home-ware also features the masks as a symbol
The above piece of jewelry is inspired by ancient Greek culture and makes an interesting party piece to talk about.
Melina World Jewellery – Comedy & Tragedy Masks 5002 – Sterling Silver 925 – Handmade in Greece and inspired by Olympic, Greek and Mediteranean history and motives. Beads fits Biagi. Chamilia, Pandora and Trollbeads etc.
This is a 10″ by 8″ print of ancient Greek masks, just one of a huge variation of available pieces of artwork inspired by them.
So there you have it. These masks are a really interesting item with a rich history, much like most aspects of the culture of Greece. If you have any more information on the masks drop me a comment and I’d be happy to include it in the article.
The Greeks love their food and have a lot of rich traditions and signature dishes. If you’ve been lucky enough to visit, you will have had the privilege of eating Greek snacks and meals. If you want to make them at home or are looking for some inspiration for a Greek themed party or just a dinner party or other occasion where you plan to serve these kind of snacks, you’ve come to the right place. Greek snacks are very different to what people eat in most other parts of the world, so what do they eat?
Corn On The Cob
This is the only snack on the list that is pretty universal and doesn’t necessarily originate in Greece. Served similarly in many parts of Asia, corn is available from street vendors and hawkers stalls who will cook it on the spot for you slathered in butter. Yum! Much more healthy than the fast food options you might find in other parts of the world.
One of Greece’s most famous exports, Houmous is a favorite snack in its homeland as well as other parts of Europe and the world. This delicious dip is usually home made when you eat it in Greece, but if you’re planning to serve it up elsewhere then you can buy it on your local supermarket shelves too. Lovely served with pitta bread shredded or sliced (another Greek tradition) or if you want to be even healthier you can serve it with carrots, celery and other cold veg.
Another food that Greeks are famous for, no snack is complete without olives! Grown all around Greece expect these to be served to you a lot if you visit, they are truly delicious, healthy and will probably be presented to you in the traditional way, that means with the pips!
Honey and Yogurt
It isn’t all healthy of course, and Greek people know how to do sweet as well as savory. Honey and yogurt can be served as a desert or as a tasty snack and can be made more interesting with nuts and dried (or fresh) fruit. Delicious!
If you’ve not visited, you probably wont have heard of this particular snack. Loukoumades are a sort of mini donuts coated in syrup and served with toppings such as sesame seeds or crushed nuts. A real treat and quite fatty but a delicious sweet snack nonetheless.
Greeks are famous for their food and you could do a lot worse than letting their beautiful cuisine enter your snacking routine! Put down that bag of crisps and make yourself some Houmous.
When in a foreign country, it is always nice to learn a little bit of the language. If the locals are willing to help you out it is always nice to be able to thank them in their native tongue, and trust me, many Greek people are nice enough to do lovely things for you more than worthy of your thanks.
How to Say Thank You In Greek
In the Greek language, “thank you” is written “Ευχαριστώ”. Don’t let that scare you though, the pronunciation is not as complex as it might seem! In English characters it is spelled ”efharistó” and is pronounced ef-hari-sto with an emphasis on the “o” at the end. The short video below shows an example of how to correctly say thank you in Greek.
Greece is a beautiful place, with many islands and an impressive mainland with an interesting architectural history. You may know Greece best as a holiday destination as thousands of European, American and other nationalities head to either mainland Greece or islands such as Crete and Corfu every year, but the stunning buildings you will see while you’re there didn’t just spring from nowhere. So what is the history of Greek Architecture?
In around 6000 BC, Greek people started to move out of caves and natural dwellings into man made homes, but they weren’t anything special. The civilians at the time made modest homes out of wattle and daub or just wood and thatched grass roofs. Nothing special, but not many of the homes you saw at the time were!
Later on, at around 4000 BC, with the influence of western Asia, who had made their way to much of Greece, people began to make slightly more advanced houses, a ‘megaron’ (which means big room) was, quite literally, a big room made out of stone and wood, with a porch like area at the front. As weather conditions are quite sunny most of the time in Greece, they didn’t have to worry about shelter a lot of the time so this open plan design suited them well.
By the time Greek civilization reached roughly 1700 BC, architecture in the whole of the world had come a long way, and because of the Asian influence, the people of Greece had begun to build much more impressive buildings. A few palaces had already been built, but they became a lot more common and were now made of stone and were much bigger than their older buildings. Many were destroyed due to their flimsy nature, but were rebuilt as technology evolved and the Greeks entered the Iron ages. The Greeks believed in gods and goddesses, and many of the most impressive buildings were temples created in tribute to their gods.
The first temples date back to around 800 BC, and often feature the ‘column’ design that the Greeks claim to have invented. You will probably have seen Greek Temples before, and their stereotypical look is a large rectangular building supported by these round columns, which are cylindrical, and look like big stone kitchen rolls. A photograph of a Greek temple is below.
The Romans also had a big influence on a lot of Greek architecture, and much like the coliseum in Rome, the Greek civilians also built impressive amphitheaters, where they would host plays and festivals which often were again dedicated to their gods. The theatres were one of the earliest examples of a rich cultural history in Greece, with many play writers and other early Greek cultural figures still studied and admired around the world today.
Up to the modern day, you will see many of the amazing historical buildings well preserved in Greece, many have become hotspots for tourists and have even become museums or paid attractions, whilst some are still used as places of worship and admiration.
Modern settlements in Greece are often made of white stone and are influenced by western styles rather than the more Asian styles you may have seen thousands of years ago. Greek architecture is well celebrated and even studied by people looking to go into restoration or using Greek styles and methods to build modern housing.
There’s no denying it, Greek women are among the most beautiful in the world. No bigotry intended, but there is something about the genetics of a stunning Greek lady that no woman in the world would turn down the chance to look like. One of the greatest sex symbols of the last 20 years in Jennifer Aniston is of Greek heritage as we already explored in our post about Greek Celebrities. She’s not the only stunner on the list though, make no mistake!
Of course, ask a native of Greece and they’ll tell you that their healthy, wholesome cuisine, and of course the fact that they stem from Gods and Goddesses, are the reasons for their beauty. I’m not here to explore the reasons though, merely appreciate these new age goddesses of Greece.
Lina Sakka – Amazing Greek actress Lina Sakka reminds us why we love that Mediterranean look. She’s never really broken into Hollywood, and her CV is a modest list of Greek television and films, but even if you cant understand what you’re watching, I’m sure you’ll stay entertained with Lina in the shot.
Iliana Papageorgiou – Dolce and Gabbana model Iliana Papageorgiou (we can’t pronounce her name either) is another reason to love the Greek ladies. She’s definitely got the model vibe with sharp cheeks and a beautiful pout, proving that those lucky Greeks are built to be beautiful.
Katerina Stikoudi – Miss Hellas herself Katerina Stikoudi is not only one of the most beautiful and sought after women in all of the Greek islands, she’s also a fully qualified Doctor and Children’s swimming instructor in her spare time. Damn those lucky kids. Look out for her in the next miss world beauty pageant as she has represented Greece in the past.
Natali Thanou - Singer and blonde bombshell Natali Thanou is not what I think of when you say ‘Greek Women’, she’s perhaps not the stereotypical beautiful, dark Goddess, but she’s got something about her that men and women alike go crazy for. Oh, and she’s not afraid to get her kit off in photos either.
Zeta Makripoulia is a Greek model, television presenter, Disc Jockey and actress, and with looks like that no wonder people keep giving her all these jobs. At 34, she’s one of the oldest on our list, but you wouldn’t know it to look at her. Watchers of Eurovision may remember her as a host in the 2006 competition.
Jennifer Aniston – I know, I’ve already mentioned her, but she deserves it, right? Jen is proud of her Greek roots, we’re just damn grateful for them…
Football is one of the most popular sports in Greece, and in 2004 they stunned the world by winning the European Championships as a country. Lots of brilliant Greek footballers play all over the world and are very successful, and although the Greek football league isn’t the most prestigious there is, the country still boasts loads of great football teams, and get to mix with the world’s best players in the Champions League too.
If you’re visiting Greece soon, you can expect to see loads of European football shown in bars everywhere, but if you’re taking more of an interest in the local sports, check out some of the Greek football teams listed here.
Olympiakos – Based in Piraeus, Olympiakos are the best supported of all Greek clubs with an estimated 500,000 fans. They have won the Greek title 39 times and boast a 32,000 seater stadium. They have reached the quarter finals of European competitions twice in their history.
Panathinaikos – Olympiakos’ fierce rivals boast one of the biggest stadiums in Europe at almost 70,000, though they rarely fill their seats. The club have won the Greek championship 20 times and reached the European Cup final back in the 70s in one of Greek club football’s proudest achievements.
P.A.O.K. – Standing for Panthessaloníkios Athlitikós Ómilos Konstantinoupolitón (I’m glad they abbreviate, too) are another force of Greek football, winning the league twice in their history, the club have also played in European competitions and boast a 28,000 seater stadium.
AEK Athens – Which stands for Athlitiki Enosis Konstantinoupoleos, are the main Athenian Greek football club. They are a club who have experienced moderate success and won the league 11 times in its history. They play at the Olympic stadium in Athens (where Panathinaikos also play) and so can fit up to 70,000 people in to support their club. Athens regularly appear in European competitions.
A list of all the clubs in the current Greek top league is below:
AEK Athens – Athens
Aris – Thessaloniki
Asteras Tripoli – Tripoli
Atromitos – Peristeri
Doxa Drama – Drama
Ergotelis – Heraklion
Kerkyra – Corfu
Levadiakos – Livadeia
OFI – Heraklion
Olympiacos – Piraeus
Panathinaikos – Athens
Panetolikos – Agrinio
Panionios Nea – Smyrni
PAOK – Thessaloniki
PAS Giannina – Ioannina
Skoda Xanthi – Xanthi
Tattoos are all the rage since the turn of the century, and are a great way for somebody to show their love for absolutely anything, countries and cultures included! The best thing about Greek Tattoos is the wonderful imagery and text that can be ta
ken from the country’s rich heritage and story-telling history. Here are some of the absolute best Greek Tattoo ideas:
- Greek Gods and Goddesses as tattoos – One of the most common Greek influences on tattoos is Greek Mythology. Perhaps a tattoo of Zeus along with his mythical horse Pegasus, lovers of the Sea might opt for a tattoo of Poseidon, or perhaps you’ll opt for the more dark option of a tattoo of Hades and his underworld
- The Greek Alphabet as tattoos – lets face it, the Greek alphabet is awesome! It’s elegant and beautiful and would make a great tattoo, whether one of the letters means something to you, or you’d like some initials, your own or somebody else’s, tattooed on yourself, the Greek Alphabet makes an awesome talking point and looks brilliant.
- A Greek word, phrase or saying, the Greeks have many philosophical sayings and quotes that you may find strike a chord and would make a fantastic tattoo, in Greek or in English, somewhere on your body.
- Greek Places – Greece boasts many beautiful places, and a tattoo based around a greek monument or place would make a magnificent talking point. Something like this tattoo of a Greek temple may well float your boat!
- A Greek pattern – you what? Greek patterns? You might not think such thing exists, but patterns that stem from Greek archaeology and the portrayal of Greece in the media. Greek patterns are often quite square in nature and look superb in black and white, you might get some inspiration from this piece of artwork.
- Ancient Greek artwork is probably the most common inspiration taken from Greece for tattoos. There is a distinct style to art like this, think Disney’s Hercules! Greek artwork often stems from pottery and features references to mythology and the gods, as well as religious references, which leads me nicely to my next point.
- Greek Religious references – The Greek orthodox church means that oftentimes, Greek influenced tattoos feature religious references including quotes and parables.
Do you have a tat that’s inspired by your love of all things Greek? Let us know, and make sure you send in a photo! We’d love to include it in this article.
What is Ouzo? This spirit or liquor which is symbolic of Greek culture, and is also consumed widely in Cyprus. The drink, also nicknamed to farmako, has a distinctive anise taste and can be found in bars and restaurants all around Greece. In fact, Greece and Cyprus are the only countries which are allowed to produce the drink under an EU ruling passed in the 90s.
It is said that the drink was invented by a group of monks back in the 14th century at holy Mount Athos, though it first attained its huge popularity between the 19th and 20th centuries as Absinthe fell out of favour.
So how do I drink my Ouzo? Traditionally, Ouzo is drank with water, in a similar way to scotch or another whiskey might be, and can also be taken straight from shot glasses. If mixed with water, the drink goes cloudy (don’t worry, this is normal), and is arguably most delicious in its h20 mixture! Another popular and more recent way of drinking Ouzo is in cocktails, which you will find across certain bars in the more touristy areas of Greece.
Due to the anise flavour that Ouzo possesses, it is often compared to the Italian spirit Sambouca, but this is not the only drink with similarities, Turkish Raki and French Pastis also share similar flavours as the drink, though are technically not the same.
In most Greek eateries, it is tradition to drink Ouzo as an aperitif with any starters you might have with a meal and indeed all through the evening! They usually drink it with water and served over ice, again, baring similarities to how we might drink scotch.
Can I buy it in the UK or USA? This might prove difficult, but it can be done! Due to the restrictions in place on producing Ouzo anywhere other than Greece and Cyprus, it is often hard to source Ouzo, but you may be able to buy it online and there are certain liquor and alcohol specialists that will import international spirits, though you might pay a premium. Perhaps it is best to visit and try it out first hand!
The Ouzo effect. Contrary to what you might initially think, the ouzo effect is not how you might act after having a few too many. Because of the way Ouzo is produced, it creates a strange, cloudy effect when mixed with water, explained brilliantly here. It might get used to looking like something that would look more in-place going through your washing machine.
Greek food is delicious as I’m sure you’ll agree, with national dishes including delicious moussaka, lamb kleftico and loads more beautiful meals, but there are some interesting facts out there about Greek food, and the eating habits of the greek, we’ve collated some of the best Greece food facts here for you.
Unlike most of Europe, Greeks eat the main meal of the day at what most of us would consider lunchtime, and traditionally many shops and businesses shut at 2 o clock in the afternoon in order to have their big meal, usually something such as a Moussaka or a Stifado. Often, this is topped off with a nice big ‘caraffe’ of red wine to wash it down before returning to work!
On New Years Eve, it is tradition in Greece to go outside and throw a pomegranate on your doorstep and break it, which supposedly brings good fortune for the coming year.
Lamb is the most popular and readily available meat in Greece, and is used for many main meals and casseroles.
Greek is famous for it’s delicious salads, which contain Greek feta cheese, olives and tomatoes, has an olive oil base and is often garnished with nuts.
Greece is a huge producer of Olives, and Olive Oil is one of the most popular ingredients in all Greek dishes.
At Easter, Greek people traditionally eat mayeritsa, a soup made from Lambs organs and seasonings…sounds…delicious…
Thin, Filo pastry is used as the foundation for loads of Greek dishes including spanakopita (spinach pie) and baklava (a pastry dessert with nuts).
Pita bread is extremely popular in Greece and is used as the basis of many sandwich style wraps and also for toasting and dipping in one of many Greek dips.
You’ll find influences from from the Romans, Venetians, Balkans, Turkish and the English within Greek culture and food, all countries and dynasties have invaded Greece in the past.
Because of the huge amount of Greek Islands, there is an array of seafood and fish involved in Greek cuisine, and you can find some exceptional seafood restaurants all around the Greek islands.
Regardless of interesting facts, Greek food is absolutely delicious, and is one of the real bonuses when it comes to visiting this beautiful country and its islands. Greek restaurants are popping up more and more around the world, so you don’t even necessarily have to be in Greece to enjoy the delights of their food.
If you’re anything like me, the type of beer you’re going to be sipping (in moderation of course) on an evening is an important factor in anywhere I visit! If you’re planning a trip, you may well be interested in Greek beer and what you’ll be able to find in the bars while you’re on your holidays. Beer has been brewed in Greece since around 1850 and, in my opinion, their beer is up there with the best in Europe and beyond – you won’t be disappointed.
Mythos – Mythos is perhaps the most famous of the Greek beers, and certainly has a very wide distribution network around Greece and the islands. There aren’t too many bars where you can’t get your hands on an ice cold pint of Mythos. This lager is a straw-coloured, 4.7% beer, and you’ll find it on draught, and available in 330ml and 500ml cans in supermarkets and convenience stores all around Greece. It is now owned by Carlsberg and the brewery imports Carlsberg and Heineken into the country.
Hillas – Hillas are advocates of a rich history of beer and alcohol ageing from ancient times. Their biography on their website claims that beer was the first alcoholic beverage known to man over 6000 years ago, and has been enjoyed ever since. Described in the brewery’s own words, “This light pale beer is dry and well balanced, and makes for a smooth drinking with a malty finish” – I couldn’t have put it better myself.
Keo – This is technically a Cypriot beer, but the countries are of course very closely linked, and Keo is widely available throughout Greece and the islands. Keo is a 4.5% pale ale with a full body and a mild hoppy edge.
What other beers can I get my hands on in Greece? If you’re not so keen on sampling the local delights, you can still get your hands on beers you might be more used to drinking, both in bars and in supermarkets. Of course, though, be prepared to pay a little bit more for the imported brands. Carlsberg is big in the Hellenic part of the world, as is Amstel. These are the two more widely known brands that you’ll find easily, but bottled beers such as Corona wont be too hard to source if you’re desperate.
How do I ask for a beer in Greek? Well, this certainly isn’t how it’s spelt, but phonetically written, if you say the words ”Mia bira paracalor”, any bar tender should just about be able to understand you. Enjoy your Greek Beers!