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9 things about life in Greece that may seem weird to anyone who doesn’t live there

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1. It’s hard for a woman to take her husband’s last name

It’s almost impossible to take your husband’s last name after getting married. You could try and get the court’s permission but only if there are very good reasons for it. “When I was getting married to a Greek man, I wanted to have his last name. I was so shocked when I found out that it was legally impossible,” is an example of what many women from foreign forums about Greek Family Law talk about. You can file an official plea to have a double last name. However, it will take quite a lot of time and will cost a lot of money. Plus, there’s no guarantee that you will get a positive answer. Children, on the other hand, can get either their father’s or their mother’s last names.

Interestingly enough, before 1983, there was a law in Greece that made women take their husband’s last names. It was compulsory. But then, a famous Greek politician named Andreas Papandreou fell in love with a flight attendant and decided to get divorced from his wife, Margaret Papandreou. The insulted wife said, “There will be no other Mrs. Papandreou.” Somehow, the woman influenced lawmakers and Greece eventually adopted the law that prohibits women to have their husbands’ last names.

2. People in Greece rarely get divorced

A divorce in Greece is something completely out of the ordinary. The marriage institution is carefully protected, so the percentage of divorces is the lowest in Europe. In order to get divorced, people in Greece have to overcome a lot of bureaucracy procedures and spend a lot of money. And according to Greek law, you can’t get divorced if you’ve been married for less than 6 months.

For Greeks, a family is everything and they really value family ties. Family celebrations in Greece typically consist of parties of 100 people with dancing and national songs.

3. Greek people love kissing

In Greece, people kiss twice — once on every cheek. What is interesting is that this tradition is spread among men just as much as it is among women. Of course, this works for friends and acquaintances but if you’ve seen a Greek person more than once, they think you’re a good acquaintance, so kissing is inevitable. The Greeks think that this is a way to show other people that they are the same as them.

4. All inhabitants and all foreigners have the right to get free medical help

In Greece, they have compulsory health insurance. However, getting to see a doctor in the government hospital is not an easy thing to do — there are too many people and the lines are too long. Usually, you have to wait for your appointment for at least 2 weeks. This is why Greek people usually have second insurance plans from their employers that let them visit private hospitals. Also, some specialists are not even included in the basic package like dentists and eye doctors, for example.

Non-government doctors can diagnose you over the phone. This means a patient can call their doctor on the phone at any time, tell them about their symptoms, send a photo via messenger, and the doctor will give them an online appointment.

5. Greeks have their own siesta known as “mesimeri

Because of the hot climate and the tradition of following a slow-paced life, Greeks have their own version of a siesta. Most of the time, they start their days quite early: they get up at 6 am or 7 am but during lunchtime, they find some time for a nap.

The mesimeri (or siesta) is believed to be one of the main reasons why they live so long — the average life expectancy in Greece is 80 years! During mesimeri, small towns and villages basically die out and you’ll only see tourists out and about while all the locals are at home. During the siesta, there’s a silent time when any noise is prohibited. There are 2 periods of this. In the summer (from April 1 to September 30), people can’t make noise from 3 pm to 5:30 pm and again from 11 pm to 7 am; and then in winter (from October 1 to March 31) from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm and again from 10 pm to 7:30 am.

These rules are quite strict so if you break them, you’ll have to pay a fine.

6. It’s the most seismic region in Europe

There are many earthquakes in Greece. Even though there are a lot of them, sometimes several times a month, there are not a lot of big disasters. Last time there was a serious earthquake was in 1999.

The local people are calm about this because they think that earthquakes are part of their national identity. Even in big cities, there are very few buildings that have more than 6 floors because of earthquakes.

7. Greek salad is actually called a village salad

The salad that is popular around the world is called a “village salad” in Greece. This is the simplest meal made of the most popular foods you can find in Greece: cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, olives, olive oil, feta, and oregano. And they don’t cut the feta into cubes, they put in a whole piece. And its ingredients aren’t usually cut into small pieces. Sometimes, they add some sweet pepper or capers but there’s no lettuce in the classic Greek salad.

The olives in the salad aren’t usually pitted and one serving of the dish in a local tavern is very big, so you should order 1 for 2 people.

8. Greeks are very emotional

There’s a phrase that says, “A quiet Greek man is a Greek man you can’t hear from 2 blocks away.” This means they’re quite noisy! They love arguing, they express their opinions very emotionally, and they love demonstrating their positive and negative feelings. For them, it’s perfectly normal to walk with their partner and still look at other attractive guys and girls that walk by.

Many Greeks don’t like to hide their true emotions: if they want to shout, they will and if they want to sing, they’ll hum a tune — and people around are very likely to sing along. But Greeks are still very attentive to each other and are good listeners.

9. Greeks love coffee and going to coffee shops

The most popular drink in Greece is, of course, coffee. The Greeks drink huge amounts of it. Spending some time with a cup of coffee in a coffee shop is an everyday ritual for most Greeks. It’s not just a 5-minute break but a real pause for rest and communication. Elderly people love coffee shops very much. Unlike the taverns, coffee shops only sell drinks.

Also, the frappe (cold coffee) was invented in Greece. To make it, they take a small amount of cold water and coffee, mix it with a special machine until there’s foam, and then add cold water and ice to the drink.

Sourced via Brightside.

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