Customs and traditions
Spending time with Greeks is not very complicated. Be polite, take care when greeting and shake hands with children. Don’t ask too personal questions to people you don’t already know well, it can be perceived as haunting.
Try to keep eye contact with the person you are talking to, be prepared for that person to be closer to you than you are used to from Sweden and maybe touch you, put your hand on your shoulder or grab your arm.
It is permissible and accepted to show emotions in conversation. It is not considered inappropriate to be angry or upset, however, it is badly taken up if you do not let anger go quickly.
- Countryaah: Overview of the capital city of Greece, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
If you are home-invited to someone, it is advisable to bring a gift, but do not try to boast something expensive and very nice. Then the host may feel pressured to offer back as extravagantly, even though the household checkout may not allow it. Here it is really the idea that counts, and it is especially appreciated if the gift is nicely wrapped.
Greeks are generally more careful about dress than Swedes and clearly distinguish between what is acceptable on the beach and how to dress in town or village. In tourist resorts, people may be used to the fact that tourists come very easily dressed in shops, but just because they accept it you should not think that they like it. A really serious violation of the rules of conduct is to enter a church barefoot and barbaric. And call church visits: don’t try to go behind the iconostasis, the screen of icons hiding the altar. Only the priests can be behind it.
In the interaction between people in Greece, one can come across the term kefi, a difficult-to-translate concept that is about enjoying life and the temporary circumstances so much that one wants to sing, dance or otherwise give vent to strong feelings of happiness.
Alcohol may contribute to kefi, but it is not about drinking as a Northern European tourist. It is seen with wrinkled eyebrows by the Greeks.
Food and drink play a major role in Greek society. One of the most striking consequences of the deep economic crisis of 2009 was that most people could no longer afford to go out to a restaurant so often.
According to Abbreviationfinder, Greek food is in any case much more than the standard diet of salad with feta cheese and olives, barbecue souvlaki, lasagna-like moussaka and yoghurt tzatziki that many tourists feed on during their holidays. At a real meal, the main course is surrounded by a variety of small dishes, preferably all served at the same time or as they become ready. Vegetables filled with rice, cheese or minced meat, soups such as the popular lemon- scented chicken soup kotosoupa, different kinds of beans with tomato sauces or pureade, dipping sauces on eggplant or fish cream, roasted anchovies, grilled octopus.
Of course, like most food cultures, Greek cuisine offers a variety of meatballs. Among the specialties are also lamb or chicken dishes cooked in the oven together with all the accessories that give each other a taste. Don’t miss the marinated lamb dish kleftiko, whose recipe is said to have been composed by robbers who cooked stolen sheep in well-closed underground ovens so that the smoke would not reveal them.
Actually, much of the Greek food is originally Turkish, but you don’t have to point that out.
A Greek restaurant meal often ends with the waiter making a dish of fruit or a glass of rakia (sometimes called tsipouro), a brandy made from the remains of grapes used for wine making. You do not have to eat or drink it, but it is good tone to thank for the gift and happy to bring a bowl. Then it may be enough to take a few chews or a small sip.
Usually, Greeks do not celebrate their birthdays after the age of twelve, on the other hand, the day dedicated to the saint whose name is given is celebrated. Traditionally, you inherit your first name from a grandparent. According to Countryaah, other days are celebrated, of course, the Christian holidays, like Independence Day March 25 to commemorate the beginning of the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821. Another non-religious holiday is Ochi Day (No Day) October 28, when the Greeks 1940 said no to Mussolini’s ultimatum to either allow the Italian fascists to occupy parts of Greece or be drawn into World War II.
Poverty is increasing rapidly in Athens
According to the mayor of Athens, poverty has risen sharply in the capital over the past year. Among other things, the number of homeless people should have increased by 20 percent.
New budgetary tightening
Approves the new government’s budgetary tightening, called for by the EU and the IMF for Greece’s second EUR 130 billion aid package; The goal of the savings package is to reduce the budget deficit from 9 to 5.4 percent of GDP in the 2012 budget.
A transitional government is formed
A cross-border transitional government is formed under the leadership of economist Loukas Papadimos, who was, among other things, Vice President of the ECB. The government includes Pasok, New Democracy and the right-wing party Laos. Pasokos Evangelos Venizelos remains as finance minister. The government’s most urgent task is to secure the payment of the EUR 8 billion to meet pensions and state salaries in December.
The government is forced to step down
The announcement of the referendum raises such surprise in Greece and outrage in the EU that Papandreou and his government are forced to step down.
The government announces a referendum
Prime Minister Papandreou surprisingly proposes a referendum on the settlement with the eurozone countries and the accompanying savings package.
Millions of Greeks demonstrate
Despite protests and a general strike involving millions of employees, Parliament approves new austerity measures with increased taxes and lower wages and pensions. The EU approves the payment of the 8 billion.
Loans in private banks are written down
Europe’s private banks promise to write off 50% of their claims on Greece. At the same time, banks’ capital will be increased and the eurozone crisis fund will more than double to one billion euros. In Greece, there is criticism of the permanent monitoring of the country’s economy that the EU, the ECB and the IMF want to set up.
Government debt is rising rapidly
Government debt has risen to EUR 350 billion, or 160 percent of GDP. The government does not say it will meet the lenders’ demands for a reduced budget deficit. The message lowers the stock exchanges in Europe and triggers new strikes and protests in Greece. The government agrees to terminate 30,000 government employees in order to pay the sixth round of support loans of EUR 8 billion.
Aten paralyzed by general strike
The Government is implementing further pension reductions and redundancies of public employees and lowering the threshold for income tax. The new austerity triggers a 24-hour strike that, among other things, cripples traffic in Athens. A referendum is proposed to leave the euro zone, but in a survey, more than three-quarters of Greeks say they want to keep the euro. Pasok’s opinion figures are raging.
“Treasury lasts for three weeks”
Greece states that the Treasury lasts for three weeks, after which the country faces state bankruptcy. Concerns that Greece should be forced to suspend payments have repercussions in the world economy: stock exchanges collapse, the euro loses in value and oil prices fall. The EU and the IMF demand an increased pace of reform to pay out the next installment of the loan. Requirements are set for, among other things, more efficient tax collection and major cuts.
IMF payout and a new rescue package
The loan agency pays EUR 3.2 billion as part of the first rescue package of 110 billion. EU leaders agree on a second support package of around EUR 159 billion. There, the EU and the IMF contribute the majority and private banks and investors with close to SEK 50 billion. After the decision, however, Greece’s credit rating is lowered.
Government reform and new savings package
The government is pressed between demands from outside and the protests at home. Papandreou proposes a unifying government and offers to resign as head of government. But New Democracy demands that the loan terms with the EU and the IMF be renegotiated. Papandreou then decides to reform the government and former Defense Minister Evangelos Venizelos may take over as finance minister. Several members of the government side of the government oppose the new austerity measures. The situation is spearheaded when the euro area countries postpone a decision on the next loan disbursement and on a new rescue package. However, the new government manages a vote of confidence and also receives a savings package of EUR 28 billion in budgetary reinforcement required for new international loans.
A new rescue package is being discussed
The budget situation is deteriorating, and the EU and the IMF are now discussing a second rescue package, while demanding that the government implement the new savings plans and tax increases, as well as a € 50 billion privatization plan. The budget will be strengthened by EUR 6.4 billion during the year and EUR 22 billion in 2012–2014. At the beginning of the month, over 80,000 people in Athens are demonstrating against the government’s planned budget cuts and a 24-hour general strike is being carried out, including on state-owned companies to be privatized.
The EU is considering forced management
The government is being pressured by the EU, the IMF and the European Central Bank (ECB) to speed up the recovery of the economy, and there is talk of forced management by the EU.
Credit rating lowered for Greece
Credit rating agency Moody’s further lowers the country’s credit rating from the previously so-called rubbish level. This means that it is considered more risky to lend to Greece than to troubled Egypt. As a result, interest rates on Greek government securities are rising rapidly.
Struggle between neo-Nazis and anti-racists in Athens
Police use tear gas to stop the clashes, where anti-racists and immigrants fight against neo-Nazis and immigrant opponents. The government has previously presented plans to build a fence along the border with Turkey to stop the influx of Asian and African migrants. About 45,000 asylum seekers who have not had their cases tried are estimated to be in Athens. The European Court of Justice rejects the rejection of refugees to Greece and stamps the treatment of asylum seekers there as degrading.