I don’t think I can count the amount of times I’ve heard that saying, but I’ve recently realized just how often I’m at a loss for words when asked “so what does this symbolize?” or “how come that’s something you guys do?”…
Perhaps that’s the irony of our culture, we are taught things as we’re growing up and because we were young we never asked questions. For example, what is the purpose of cracking the red eggs on Easter? I’m sure you know that the eggs are dyed red to symbolize the blood of Christ, but the cracking of one egg by another is meant to represent the cracking open of the tomb when Christ was resurrected. I kid you not I only discovered that about 3 years ago, all this time I’d just assumed it was another custom with some long lost symbolism. Maybe it’s just me, but it got me thinking of all these other ‘things’ we do without a second thought.
My favorite of all would definitely be how we, as Hellenic South Africans (Hellenic meaning someone of either, or both, Cypriot and Greek descent), have our own variation of the Zembekiko- otherwise known as the ‘drunken man dance’. We’re ones of few who dance with true passion and flare for the zem, I mean who else would light the floor ablaze as we spin around and show off an array of passionate moves that none can mimic? Let’s not forget the smashing of plates! Yet another uncustomary display of emotion but it is one that we take great pride in portraying- a celebration of life.
Our big fat Greek loud families can be heard from miles away, and it astounds me how much that is something that can be envied by others- the way in which we gather with those we love on such a constant level. Personally, my day is not complete without a phone call from my Yiayia (grandmother for those who don’t know) just checking up on how I’m doing or my mom asking what we want for dinner before we’ve even had lunch. We are known feeders and we just can’t help but be those people who have a whole array of snacks out whenever guests come over- before you’ve even walked through our door I promise you’ll have a beverage in hand and a plate full of food.
To say I am proud is an understatement. There’s something so very unique in how we uphold our traditional values and the manner in which our community exists so strongly. There’s nothing like a homemade meal in a Greek household we promise you that. We’ve got treats that will delight anyone’s sweet tooth, and if you fancy a cup of Greek coffee perhaps you’ll have the opportunity for your future to be read in the remnants of your cup- there are few trained in this art but it’s always fascinating to hear someone’s translation of fate. Honestly there are so many little quirks that I can’t even fathom as I’m writing this, that I don’t register as “ours”… I’d love to hear of your perspectives, leave a comment telling me of your favorite highlight of being Greek, or favorite experience with a bunch of Greeks. Tell me how Greek things are to you! x