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Friday, October 14, 2005 

Encourage Greeks Bearing Gifts

When it comes to giving gifts, nobody does it better than the Greeks. I've never seen anything quite like it. It's not as if I never gave or received gifts in Canada or the US. Christmas Day is the Mother of all gift days in North America but that's about it. Any other occasion is usually marked by a bottle of wine, a party or an e-card.

In Greece, it seems any occasion is worthy of a gift. And there are a lot of occasions. My bank account can testify to that fact. They give housewarming gifts, name day gifts, birthday gifts, easter gifts, baptism gifts, wedding gifts, and Christmas gifts. Even if you've lived in your house for 20 years, if it's the first time your guest has visited you, they're going to bring you some sort of gift...either sweets, flowers or wine. I've never received or given so many gifts in my whole life.

The days I dread the most are Name Days. (The day of the saint after whom you're named.) The worst Name Days are May 21 (where probably one third of the population is named Constantinos or Eleni) and Oct. 26 (where another third of the population is named Dimitra/Dimitris). On each of those days, every single Greek has at least 10 presents to buy. I'll bet it's safe to say that every Greek also knows a couple whose names are Constantinos and Constantina and have a daughter named Eleni. With that triple whammy to your bank account, you don't repeat the same mistake twice and remember to ask all your potential friends what the names of their spouses and kids are so you can lessen some of the financial damage.

Frequently, Name Days are also celebrated with big dinners or barbecues if they occur during the summer months. I love any reason to celebrate and I think it's a wonderful thing that the Greeks really know how to socialize and have fun. Had I known about this aspect of Greek culture before I emigrated, it wouldn't have taken me so long to get here.

I don't have a Name Day (I don't have a "Christian" name) and I don't even celebrate my name on the All Saints day. It's of no consequence since I suspect that's the reason I have quite a few friends...I'm cheaper than a Greek friend. Although I should probably cut down on acquiring new Greek friends otherwise I'll be forced to change my name to 'Chreokopia' to honour my patron saint...bankruptcy.

This is YET another thing I love about the Greek people. I'm sure everyone must get the impression that I hate the place but that is so far from the truth, I can't tell you. I can't keep up either but I love it. This weekend we are celebrating something or other, the end of summer, the leaves starting to fall, my birthday coming up at the end of the month!!! Whatever. Our neighbours (our friends) are having a BBQ. And we will be going. Just for the hell of having a good time with our great friends.

The worst is when it seems all your friends and relatives have name days around Christmas.

(It's χρεοκοπία, by the way.)

Poor Seawitch--cursed with a pagan name. LOL

I remember celebrating a name day the first time I was in Greece. I was vacationing in the Greek Islands (Mykonos). I didn't even know the people...they just told me to come to the party. And I did. What a party it was. I remember the food and the music and the beautiful evening. For me, the best part about Greece was the islands. (Mind you, my travel agent never told me that Mykonos attracted a large proportion of gay tourists. Fab parties...but not so great for the dating life. hahaha) Nice blog seawitchypoo.

HRH Queen Bee

Dammit. ChreoKOpia. Grrrr. I even re-read that twice and didn't see it. I hate making mistakes. Thanks for pointing it out, Thomas. I don't want to look illiterate on top of my behavioural problems. LOL And yes, Christmas + Vassili is a killer too but I only know one Vassili so it's bearable.

Bee,nice to see that you read my blog you Canadian slutoula. LOL

Diva...I've gone beyond wanting to change my name to just one beautiful ancient name...I need at least 4 or 5 so I can be the maximize my fun with Greeks.

I don't have a saintly name either, so I always feel left out.

Of course, I keep emphasizing people's birthdays, not their name days, which of course is wrong in Greece. I can't keep track of both!

Greeks are great about giving gifts, but I find them especially bad at receiving them. They get embarrassed, don't want to open the package in your presence, and never, ever acknowledge the gift after the fact. I'm no Emily Post, but one convention I miss more than others is that of the lowly thank-you note (or verbal equivalent).

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