The first traces of human habitation in Greece began during the Paleolithic Age, (approximately 120000-10000 B. C. ). Greece has come from a long history and is known for the amazing art and architecture. They are also known for their religious and philosophical beliefs. One of the most modern connections we have with Greece is the Olympics, which began 3,000 years ago (approximately 776 B. C. ). Greeks general attitude towards tourist and strangers is defined by the term ‘Filoxenia’ (“friend to foreigners”).
One would find the local villagers to be very hospitable but the civil servants may tend to be noticeably cold and indifferent to customers. In tourist places, the Greeks may suffer from some burn-out from the continual flood of visitors and may become highly sensitive at the end of the season. One should be respectful when dealing with the locals and would get more with honey than with vinegar. Greeks have a rich culture that has developed for thousands of years. They have been an organized and established culture with many influences. One of the largest has been religion.
Like most modern cultures, Greece has transformed in to the global community it is today and is changing and becoming less traditional. Greek value their family, loyalty and wisdom. Greeks speak Greek as their primary language but also learn foreign languages like English, French, Italian and Spanish. Approximately, seventy percent of the population are bilingual and about forty-eight percent speak English. For the Greeks, their religion changed from a world of polytheism to what now is monotheism. Majority of Greeks are Greek Orthodox, while a small percentage is Muslim or another faith.
Many do not attend church regularly, except for weddings, funerals or baptism, but they do attend Good Friday and Easter. Their religion allows priests to marry and if you divorce to marry in the church. Greeks have customs and courtesies like other cultures. Greeks are warm and hospitable. When meeting someone for the first time they shake hands firmly, smile and maintain direct eye contact. Good friends and family often embrace; they usually kiss each other on the cheek. Some male’s friends slap each other on the shoulder. In general, Greeks exchange gifts with family and friends for Christmas and ‘namedays’, but not so much for birthdays.
Gifts are not expensive and most gifts are reciprocated so they tend not to burden the recipient, who would feel obliged to give an equivalent gift. When invited into a Greek home for dinner, bring something small. Floral arrangements maybe sent in advance. Gifts should be wrapped and usually opened when received. If you have been invited into a Greek home for dinner you should dress well because it demonstrates that you are respectful to the hosts. Offer to help with preparation or clean up after the meal is served. As far as table manners, one should remain standing until invited to sit down.
The fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right hand while eating. The oldest person is usually served first and do not begin eating until the hosts starts. Also, you should keep elbows off the table and hands above the table while eating. Accepting a second helping is considered a compliment. It is also considered polite to soak up gravy with bread and it is not uncommon for people to share food from ones plate. Place your napkin next to your plate and lay your knife and fork parallel with the handles facing to the right when you have finished eating.
The host always gives the first toast but an honored guest may return the toast later in the meal. The most common toast is made “to your health”. Definitely expect a lot of communication during a meal. It is nice to also pay a compliment to the host’s home. Meals are a time for socializing. The lifestyle of a Greeks come from their home in which, they were raised. The Greeks tend to focus more on collectivism as opposed to an individual. They consider themselves a tight-knit group and because building relationships are important and you need to be patient.
When it comes to dating and marriage it is appropriate for the groom to ask permission of to marry from the daughter’s father. Most Greeks believe one should marry another Greek. Their engagements are lengthy and are celebrated largely with gifts. Marriage celebration begins a few days before the wedding when both family and friends prepare the new residence with a blessing of prosperity and fertility by placing a baby on the couple’s future bed. Friends and family also prepare the bride and groom before the ceremony, while wedding guests celebrate before attending the wedding.
After the ceremony at the church, the guests go to a restaurant to dance and listen to music. Traditionally the best man and bride’s maid becomes the Godfather or Godmother to the couple’s first born. Many Greeks own their own business but some do work as civil servants. Customary business etiquette consists of direct eye contact. Greeks do not like to do business with someone they do not know and trust. They maintain an intricate web of family and friends to call upon, and nepotism is a standard practice. Greece tends to work longer hours than their European counterparts, although they have been suffering from a terrible debt crisis.