RELIGION AND CHURCH
Nearly all the Greeks are Greek-orthodox. The difference to the Catholic belief is not very big, for example the Greek-orthodox parsons are allowed to marry as long as they do not attempt to rise in the hierarchy. The most important holidays are not Christmas, but Easter. The Greek Church is a people's church and follows the traditions of the early Christians. There is nothing far away or high above. The relation between priests and believers is like you have relation to your neighbor.
A big difference is, that the Greek religion does not believe in the infallibility of the pope. The Holy ghost is not sent by Jesus, but by god. There are no taxes, people have to pay, like in so many Central European countries. The church do not get any economical support from the government. Although it is one of the richest institution in the country.
About the religiosity of the Greeks one may discuss. More often you see women in god's house than man, more often elderly people than young ones. Many Greeks, especial the younger, want to escape from the very strong influence the church has. At the one hand the church is accepted as the keeper of the tradition, but at the other hand it is highly criticized about its dogmatism and interfering in daily and private life.
But there is also another side. The bishop Irenaios of Kissamos-Kastelli gives a good example for a progressive and social minded orthodox bishop. During his long period of administration he had reached a lot of things, although the diocese is very poor, there is no unemployment. All over the villages he forced building schools. As an answer to the greedy and corrupted ship owners of Pireas he founded with the money of the members of his community the Cretan ANEK lines, which is owned by thousands of shareholders.
The mass is not hold in the today's common used Neo Greek language (Dimotiki), but in that language, which was used in the past only by the scholar classes, the Katharevousa, which was developed from ancient Greek. The mass lasts two time longer than it does e.g. at the Catholics. The priest is supported by two groups of singers. In the back upper part of the church there is the women's balcony. the only place where women had been allowed to participate the mass - nowadays it is history.
The altar is not in front of the believers, it is behind a wooden wall, called Templo. At this wall all the beautiful icons are hanging. This room is allowed only for the priest. The divine service does not deal with worldly matters, it is only to praise the heavenly creatures, who are a lot: beside the Holy Trinity there are angels, seraphs and cherubs and a big variety of saints. It is the aim of the divine service to have a mystic union with them, this also can be seen at the interior of the church, the icons and frescos.