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Old 12-10-2009, 03:26 PM
 
1 posts, read 6,294 times
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Default What is TABOO in Greek Culture??

I've got my sights set on the mediterranean... Well, my study abroad application does... But before I go, I figure it's a pretty good idea to familiarize myself with 'the Greek way' first....

Can anyone tell me what is taboo to the Greek culture? What things do you 'just not talk about' or 'just don't do' in this part of the globe?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 12-10-2009, 04:16 PM
 
Location: BOY-see
4,325 posts, read 6,717,224 times
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I wouldn't go stating that the Turks were right to kick all the Greeks out of Turkey, or expressing a great deal of admiration for Turkey. In fact, the thinking visitor to Greece doesn't bring up the Greek/Turkish issue at all.

No point complaining that you can't flush toilet paper in Greece. After all, no amount of complaining is going to magically replumb the whole country. Just put up with it with good humor, or don't go.

Also, don't wave in the way one does in most Anglophone countries. It can easily be mistaken for an obscene gesture called the moutza, which essentially means "I wash your face in dirt (or something worse)." While the Greeks realize that tourists don't know this for the most part, imagine some foreign visitors to Denver or Charleston walking around cheerily waving hello with their middle fingers. It would be a bit grating at the very least. I wouldn't wave at all in Greece, or if I did, I'd wave with my palm facing me. Sounds like it would look stupid, but I'd rather feel silly than get in trouble.

Not a cultural thing but a legal one: don't photograph the astynomia (cops) or anything military. You can take pics of the Evzones in front of the Vouli Ton Ellinon (Parliament), and they're in the Greek Army, but nothing else. One of the quickest paths to the official attention of the authorities in Greece: point a camera at those authorities.

Something that won't be hard for Americans to understand, given the way we claim to venerate veterans and war memorials: show the same respect to Greek war memorials. Their country paid a terrible price for siding with the Allies in WWII and had to fight very hard to get loose from the Ottoman Empire to begin with. Treat a Greek war memorial as you would treat the Vietnam Wall flanking the Lincoln Memorial (which means if you have kids, do not let the little savages SIT ON THE THING as I saw at the Vietnam Wall; I wanted to do some pretty rough things, especially to their idiot parents, and I'm the least nationalistic American you'll ever meet).

If you visit an Orthodox place of worship, even if it's partly a tourist attraction, remember that you are in church and show suitable decorum. If the rules say no bare knees or shoulders, and you forgot, don't expect an exception because you're a Murrican. If the rules say silence, shut up completely, and make sure your cell phone doesn't ring. But I would also be careful about my decorum around ancient pre-Christian temples, if not to the same rigorous degree. That is their heritage and there is still a bit of a sense of reverence about most such places.

It's true most places, but I found it especially true in Greece: it is very worth while giving the time of day to people in service occupations, treat them like they matter. No one anywhere likes being treated like a vending machine, but I think they like it less so in Greece. You can talk your way into things in Greece. Like when our bus was headed toward Mycenae and we realized to our horror that we were out of camera batteries. Despite the fact that we had been delayed getting out of Athens due to a strike (endemic there), and were thus well behind schedule for the day, I quietly approached our guide and asked if there was anyplace at all on the way that might have batteries, and if it might be at all possible to stop there. He exchanged a few sentences in Greek with the driver, and allowed as how there might be such a place, and would stop to let me run in and check. Despite the fact that the bad planning was our fault and threw off his timetable even more than it already was, he did stop and the little store did in fact have batteries. I wouldn't have pictures of the Lion's Gate or the scenery from the citadel of Mycenae if it weren't for his kindness. And I am quite sure I wouldn't have them if I'd talked to him like a menial functionary rather than the highly educated tour guide he was. (And he really was. My field in college was ancient history, and his knowledge awed me--and I think it would have awed some of my professors.)

I realize this wandered a bit afield from the original question, but it's what I'd tell a US visitor headed to Greece. We had a fantastic time there, with many pleasant contacts and good times. I'd like to see others enjoy it just as fully.
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Old 12-11-2009, 03:31 AM
 
Location: Europe
6,059 posts, read 5,199,697 times
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I have lived in Cyprus and travelled in Greece, the advice is very good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by j_k_k View Post
...In fact, the thinking visitor to Greece doesn't bring up the Greek/Turkish issue at all...
No, never...and in Cyprus don't even think anything positive about the Turks or Turkey.

Quote:
No point complaining that you can't flush toilet paper in Greece. After all, no amount of complaining is going to magically replumb the whole country. Just put up with it with good humor, or don't go.
Exactly, it be that way.

Quote:
Not a cultural thing but a legal one: don't photograph the astynomia (cops) or anything military.
Absolutely, I had some friends who were picked up for doing that in the countryside, and they lost their film to the police. And if you see signs that say "no stopping" or "no cameras/photos" and you cannot see a thing that you think should not be photographed, you are in the wilderness as far as you are concerned; do not even be tempted...you are probably near a military base. And they are watching the road traffic!

Quote:
If you visit an Orthodox place of worship, even if it's partly a tourist attraction, remember that you are in church and show suitable decorum. If the rules say no bare knees or shoulders, and you forgot, don't expect an exception because you're a Murrican.
And do not touch the ikons out of curiosity, they are objects of veneration, not merchandise.

Quote:
I wouldn't have them if I'd talked to him like a menial functionary rather than the highly educated tour guide he was. (And he really was. My field in college was ancient history, and his knowledge awed me--and I think it would have awed some of my professors.).
I had the same experience in Istanbul. I hired a private guide, a retired engineer, expecting and educated person with good knowledge to give me a tour of mosques built by the architect Sinan. What I got was a man who had devoted his life to studying Sinan and his buildings, he was nothing short of brilliant...and totally loved sharing his love with an interested American.

The Greeks are extremely outgoing and friendly on the whole, and they are usually very hospitable to strangers...though in some of the island resorts that get a lot of young tourist drunks that welcome has worn thin.
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Old 12-11-2009, 11:34 AM
 
Location: Austin
1,478 posts, read 587,846 times
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Don't dig up the body of a former president like these peeps did. It is considered rude.

Quote:
Thieves have stolen the remains of Tassos Papadopoulos, the former president of the Republic of Cyprus, police say.
BBC News - Grave robbers steal former Cyprus president's remains
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Old 12-11-2009, 01:26 PM
 
Location: Europe
6,059 posts, read 5,199,697 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joejitsu View Post
Don't dig up the body of a former president like these peeps did. It is considered rude.

BBC News - Grave robbers steal former Cyprus president's remains
Ugh! Hadn't heard about that.

He was referred to as "Papa Dope" (a shortening of his name Papadopoulos, and a jeering comparison to Haiti's Papa Doc) by his more bitter enemies.

This was because when public opinion among Greek Cypriots looked like it might be near 50/50 for accepting the treaty of reunification he campaigned energetically for turning it down....even though he had negotiated it, and according to the agreement the leaders of the two sides were to refrain from partisan politics regarding it. The police and young member of the National Guard went through the smaller villages essentially telling people to vote No, a clear case of the party in power using the government to influence the outcome. Local harrassment where I lived was so strong that people were afraid to say that they were going to vote Yes.
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Old 01-24-2013, 03:51 PM
 
2 posts, read 5,151 times
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Default To JKK

Ok let me just say something right now, don't call children savages . Do you have children? I sure hope you don't because I can only imagine what their lives must be like.
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Old 01-24-2013, 03:53 PM
 
2 posts, read 5,151 times
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Default To JKK

Oh and please, I would have loved to see you do some really rough things.
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Old 01-25-2013, 05:59 AM
 
29 posts, read 30,520 times
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nicely said by j_k_k
some funny things to keep in mind
1) We have invented Everything... don't argue with that.
2) We know everything and have an opinion about everything. We know much better how life is in the US even though we haven't been there. Movies is enough info.
3) Greek Salad has no lettuce. Don't ask for it
4) Souvlaki gyro etc on a pita bread also doesn't have lettuce.
5) We don't call houses between 2pm-5pm. A lot of people are having their siesta, still.(ages over 50)
6) You will sound weird asking hot coffee in the middle of the summer. Don't worry Freddo Capuccino and Frappe taste Great try them.
7) We eat lunch at 2pm and dinner at 10pm(you will find nothing to eat at 6pm on a non tourist area). Breakfast doesn't exist for us, is useless.
8) Don't wear sandals with shocks as the Germans do. People will laugh at you.
9) We smoke a lot and everywhere. Winter is nightmare for non smokers. Summer all places are open air.
10) Don't expect that when you buy the cheapest boat ticket for the islands that you will have a seat. You will seat on the deck, take a cushion with you

May be I got a little off topic..sorry
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Old 01-25-2013, 07:01 AM
 
Location: Oxford, England
13,039 posts, read 14,814,472 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cherrisbrn View Post
Ok let me just say something right now, don't call children savages . Do you have children? I sure hope you don't because I can only imagine what their lives must be like.
But some children ( and their Parents ) ARE savages.


I have seen kids (mostly Anglo-Saxon) behave quite frankly so appallingly that it makes you ponder how anyone could possibly deal with such monsters. Screaming, crying at their parents, pleading, so fussy with food it makes you wonder whether they have actually ever been told NO.

I was an au-pair in the US for a few months and I was shocked at the lack of discipline and the way children rule their parents rather than the other way around. The child I looked after could have been a stand in from "The Exorcist". A spoilt, willful, disobedient, ill behaved little brute, unruly, physically and verbally abusive, boorish and behaving like a little Princess.

A true little savage with no manners, no concept of thinking about others or listening, and obeying her parents... About as horrible as a child can be.

Until I looked at that demon I had never realised it was actually possible to genuinely dislike children as people. I would rather root canal than ever have to deal with such creatures again.

And the parents who let those monsters behave that way should be sent to parenting school.

Why is it so taboo to criticise children when they are so bad ? I have seen toddlers actually swear at their parents for candy at the supermarket, having to be physically dragged down kicking and screaming. If that is not a monster and a savage I don't know what is.
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Old 01-25-2013, 09:35 AM
 
Location: A Nomadic Texan
3,705 posts, read 1,710,619 times
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At the moment - being German
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