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I know how to speak Greek okay, but I am not great at it. I want to brush up on my skills, and I also want to teach some of my family members. I am good enough at it to the learn the basics. I am looking for advice, but I've also compiled some ideas:

1. Spend an extended period of time in Greece

There’s no better way to learn Greek than to immerse yourself in the language and culture of Greece. If you have the opportunity, consider spending an extended time in Greece, studying or working, taking a sabbatical, or just exploring the country. Living in Greece can help you understand the nuances of the language, such as the different accents, dialects, and slang that are used. You’ll also have the chance to practice your Greek with locals, watch Greek TV or films, and read Greek books or newspapers. I would imagine this is the best way to learn fast!

2. Use a language program

If you can’t travel to Greece or you prefer a more structured approach to learning Greek, consider using a language program. There are many language programs available online or in your local area, ranging from self-paced courses to interactive classes. Some popular language programs for Greek include Rosetta Stone, Duolingo, and Pimsleur. From what I understand these are all great options and I can learn at my own pace.

3. Take classes

Taking classes is another excellent way to learn Greek, especially if you prefer face-to-face interaction and feedback. You can find Greek language classes in community colleges, universities, language schools, or private tutors. Taking classes can help you improve your Greek skills, such as listening, speaking, reading, and writing. You’ll have a teacher who can guide you through the learning process, answer your questions, and give you homework or assignments that challenge you. You’ll also have classmates who share your passion for Greek and can practice with you.

4. Find ways to immerse yourself outside of Greece

Even if you can’t go to Greece or attend classes, you can still immerse yourself in Greek in your daily life. One way is to find Greek-speaking communities or events in your area, such as cultural centers, festivals, or meetups. You can also use online resources to connect with Greek speakers, such as language exchange websites, social media groups, or chat apps. Listening to Greek music, watching Greek videos or podcasts, or reading Greek literature can also help you familiarize yourself with the sounds and patterns of the language.

Honestly, I plan to try all 4 - whatever I can do. I think it will all help.
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These are some great tips! I personally like to experience the language. Learning the grammar and basics is a great start, but it isn't until I start using the language that the real magic happens.

I watch shows, read magazines and stuff (mostly found online), and track down some Greek television to watch. I usually pay for a service a few months before a trip and try to watch a little bit each day. It really helps!

Gift Ideas for Greek Christenings

I've had to go to a log of Greek Christenings lately, which means that I know exactly what to do when it comes to gift. I have noticed some gifts traditionally appear. Aside from money, which is also appropriate, here are some ideas:

1. Icons
In Greek religion and culture, icons are considered not just as works of art but as holy objects that help people feel closer to God. Gifting an icon is an incredibly powerful way of expressing love and well wishes to the baby. An icon symbolizes a bond that will stay with the child for a lifetime, and it can hang in their room for years to come. It is an unusual and thoughtful gift that will make a lasting impact.

2. Silver Baby Spoon and Fork Set
A silver baby spoon and fork set is an elegant and memorable gift idea. In Greek culture, silverware is traditional, signifying the precious nature of the sacrament. It is both practical and meaningful and can be passed down through the generations.

3. Christening Outfit
If you're looking for a less traditional gift idea, consider gifting a beautiful christening outfit. This is typically taken care of by either the parents or godparents, so I would check before you buy something.

4. Book of Blessings
A book of blessings containing prayer and passages of faith is an exceptional gift. It is a sentimental and thoughtful gift that will go a long way in nurturing the baby's faith and spiritual growth. Moreover, it is something that the child can revisit years later, reminding them of the love and support they received from their family and friends at the Christening.

List of Cretan Dances?

I will be attending a Cretan wedding and am curious about the traditional Cretan dances! I know the dances are slightly different and I want to learn some. I don't know the names of the dances so that I can look them up. I did some research, though. Are any of these dances common at these weddings?
  • Pentozali
  • Sousta
  • Siganos
  • Chaniotis
There's a dance the wedding party typically does in Crete. Which dance is that?

Information on the Greek Tradition of Vasilopita

I love the tradition of Vasilopita. My family does something on New Year's Eve, and my church does something for a fundraiser about a week or two after New Year's. So, 'tis the season!

I never really sat down and considered why we do it. So, I decided to do some research. Here is what I learned - please feel free to chime in with anything to add!

Origins of Vasilopita

According to legend, Vasilopita dates back to the 4th century, when Saint Basil the Great was the Archbishop of Caesarea in what is now Turkey. It’s said that the archbishop wanted to distribute money to the poor in his region, but he didn’t want to favor one person over the other. So, he asked the women of the city to bake bread, each containing a coin, which would be cut and given to the people in need. Over time, the bread transformed into a cake, and the coin turned into a lucky charm in the shape of a Saint Basil medallion.

Vasilopita Ceremony

The Vasilopita ceremony is usually held on New Year’s Day, during lunch or dinner. Before cutting the cake, the head of the household blesses it with a cross, saying, “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Then, they cut the cake into pieces, dedicating the first slice to Jesus Christ, the second to Saint Basil, and the third to the household. The rest of the cake is then served to the guests, with the finder of the charm receiving a special blessing.

Cultural Significance

In Greece, Vasilopita is more than just a cake, it’s a symbol of community, love, and hope. It’s an opportunity to gather with friends and family, reflect on the past year, and set intentions for the future. It’s also a way to honor Saint Basil, who is celebrated on January 1st, and to remember the less fortunate by sharing the cake with those in need. In addition, Vasilopita is a traditional Christmas gift, exchanged among coworkers or friends, often accompanied by a small card with wishes for the upcoming year.

My family usually buy the vasilopita. I have never made it... it's just as good no matter who does it! I know some ladies at church get together and make it for our reception...


Greek Name Days Celebrations

I have been encouraging my family and friends to let me know when their name days are. I know for my immediate family, of course, but I want to start honoring name days in addition to birthdays like they do in Greece.

But aside from wishing someone Chronia Polla, or happy name day, what else can we do? How do people in Greece celebrate? Is it much like a birthday?

Where did plate smashing come from?

When Greeks feel happy and are dancing and have a good time, they've been known to smash plates. I've seen it! It's not just a tourist thing - but they don't do it much because I am sure they won't want to smash their expensive dish wear.

I was just at a wedding and they had purchased plates to smash - so basically they were cheap throwaway plates that actually smashed really well. I almost wonder if they were made for the purpose...

It got me thinking - where did this tradition come from? Does anyone know?
Share and discuss Greek traditions related to Greek weddings, christenings, dance & holidays!

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