People, Crete Island
The evil eye is big in Crete, where I lived for four years, and possibly elsewhere in Greece. If you go into someone's home, don't look too enviously at their things and don't pass too many complements-they believe your jealously an bring them bad luck and will not invite you back. If you see gaudy coloured beads, don't be attracted to them, they're their to catch out people who have the evil eye. If you're offwered a drink, don't go for the brightly coloured and decorated bottle, again, the evil eye. The same applies in shops etc.
If you see a beautiful baby and think, "Oh, how cute"' remember to spit three times at the ground. Otherwise the baby will suffer bad luck because of your evil eye. Some mothers even paint their babies feet black to protect them.
Officially there is equality between the sexes, but still women are paid less.
About 40 % of the Greek women are engaged in active employment.
Theoretically Greek women are liable for military service, but only volunteers are taking part in the service, and the women seem to be satisfied with this situation.
When divorcing, all belongings are equally split between man and woman.
Today a Greek woman may keep her maiden name when marrying.
Today Greek women only give birth to half as many children, as they did before World War 2.
The birth-rate is the second lowest in Europe. Italy has the lowest birth-rate.
Since 1982 it has been legal to have a civil marriage. But still 95 % are married religiously in the church.
Arranged marriages are forbidden by law. Paying dowry is illegal too. But still you can see examples of both!
The average age for Greek women is 80 years. Men can stand the women for 75 years only!
Xanthies touristries, blonde tourist women. Highly appreciated by the "kamakia", the young hot-blooded Greek lovers. Love stories between men of Crete and tourists are common each year. Most of them are just summer loves but a few marriages come out of them also. The result is the many european women living in Crete, mostly German, Dutch and Scandinavian. Be aware though, that having a romantic love affair during your holiday is one thing and living in Crete married to a Cretan man is totally different. The cultural differences are many and it is very important not to ignore them
Greeks are known as champion gesture users in the Mediterranean. Their hands, bodies and faces are rarely still and it sometimes seems possible to get the gist of a conversation by watching it from 50 meters away.
Instead of shaking heads from side to side as we do, they have another indescribable way of saying "No". This is done by raising the entire head in a backwards movement and clicking the tongue. Sometimes these movements are too subtle and quick, and you can't be too sure that he/she's answered at all. You can repeat the question again and again, and find he/she's been saying "No" from the very beginning.
A slow down movement of the head to one side, slightly closing the eyes as the head is lowered.
This gesture is indicated by the wawing of the hand, a kind of pawing of the air with the fingers and the palm downwards, that looks to the non-Greek as though he/she is either waving good-bye, or telling you to move back a few steps.
This can be confusing, because the further you move back, the more frantic the gesture becomes.
"I want to tell you something"
This gesture is done by touching or patting the lower lip with the index finger, and can easily be misunderstood, as it looks as if you are being told to be quiet. This gesture is often performed immediately after the "Come here" gesture - and put together they simply mean "Come here, I want to tell you something".
"What do you want / what do you mean?"
With a quizzical expression in his/her eyes, the Greek will shake his/her head from side to side a few times. This normally means that he/she either hasn't understood what you've asked, and is asking you to repeat it, or he/she is asking you what you want.
"Thank you very much my friend"
The "Yes" gesture is followed by putting the right hand to the heart. Standing in front of the person, the gesture is of course followed by a verbal statement. But the gesture can also be performed at some distance.
If you really want local people to be nice to you and give you little more than you can get for your Euro - SAY IT IN GREEK!!!
Say " YA-sass " when you want to say Hello.
"pa-ra-ka-LO" when you want to say Please.
"ef-kha-ree-STO" to say Thank you.
"seeg-NO-meen" to say Excuse me.
Say "ka-lee-MEH-ra" to your host if you manage to get up before 9 am :-) if you like to sleep long at least say "ka-lee-SPHE-ra" (good morning and good afternoon)
Everything else you can say in your language.
OH! And remember, don't complain about your food!!! Eat it!!! It is good for you!!!
and don't try to go inside of the church or monastyr wearing mini skirt and tiny tank top. Cover up for a moment!!!
Seniors are treated with the most of respect in Crete as in the whole of Greece. Be very kind to elderly people and they will return your kindness.
Don't be surprised when a senior gentleman greets you in the street - it is casual to greet guests and he considers you guest.
While entering a shop run by an elderly person greet them with kind 'Yasas' or simple 'Kali mera'.
If a lady who could be your grandma talks to you in Greek in a cafe, just smile and be nice; she will be happy to see you satysfied.
- Respect local people and especially the elderly ones,
- Show interest in whatever seems to be important to your hosts,
- Learn a few basic words in Greek - local people will love you :-)
- Remember: freedom and local identity are most vital to the people of Crete!
This warning might apply to all of Crete, but I only know for sure about Hania, because I stayed there for most of my trip. The local men... sorry boys, love to ride their annoying little scooters up and down the street, over and over and over again. I know they weren't going anywhere, because I saw the same ones about 20 times. Apparently, making noise on their bikes is fun for them. Sometimes, they just sit there and reve their engine, either in an attempt to give me a heart attack, decide their life's plan, or discover the secrets of the universe; I'm really not sure. Either way, its a bit annoying... unless you have headphones! Bring a pair. You might need them.
You might get the impression that Greek men always sit on cafes and drink. They do often go to a kafenion. Often they have a cup of Greek coffee only. Most of them stay there for a short time, just enough to hear what has happened and also to make an appointment with for example the local electrician or the local bricklayer.
...local people in Crete/ Kriti as we call it. They are more direct, sometimes extreme, put even more weight in matters of family honour than average Greeks...