FAMILY AND SOCIETY Like in all countries of the Mediterranean traditionally the big family plays an important roll and is one of the strongest institutions of the society. Here in Crete it is even stronger, due to the isolated position, the many conquerors the isle had seen, and the mainly agriculture orientated economy.
The most important function of the family is to give social security in case, that one member of the family gets into economical troubles. The Greek government does not provide such strong social insurance as the Central European countries do. The family in the sense of Greeks consists of three generations. The strong authority is in the hands of the father, even if the sons are already married. Once the father dies, the authority goes to the oldest son. It is not seldom, that the married children live with their family at their parent's house, usually at the son's family. But labour migration, rural exodus and the possibilities of tourism to earn better money had caused in the past years an reduction of the traditional big family.
A very important duty of the patriarch is to take care about the heritage of his sons and the dowry of his daughters. In general they get money, a peace of land and a house. It is still very common, that the oldest son is not allowed to marry as long as his sisters are not married yet.

THE SOCIAL STATUS OF THE GREEKS About 25 percents of all employees in Greece are working for the government. So they are not able to bee fired an also they can retire after 35 years work. There are several social insurance companies and the difference between each one is quit big - the best is the one for the government's employees...
All employees do have the right to take holidays for four weeks. The monthly average salary is around EUR 700,- and that is even in Greece not much. But most of the Greeks have at least a second source of income, like agriculture, their own shop or another job. The unemployment rate is about the same like in other European countries, also inflation and price level.

GREKS ABROAD It is said, that one half of the Greeks are living abroad. Centuries ago a lot of Greeks left the country, because of the bad conditions they had to live in (the Turkish occupation) and they stayed for ever to live there. In the 20th century their have been two big migration waves. The first has been in 1922, when more than 1 million of Greeks had been expelled from Asia Minor and came to Greece. This caused many troubles in the young country, especially unemployment and economical difficulties. Many expellees migrated manly to the USA.
After World War II and the following rehabilitation of the Central European countries many Greeks went there in the 1960ies to get better paid jobs than they had in Greece. Meanwhile a lot of families re-migrated.

EDUCATION The attendance at the kindergarten (Pronipio) and preparatory school (Nipio) is voluntary and in general the children were sent there, as it is also free of charge.
At primary school (Dimiotiko skolio), which starts at the age of six years and lasts six years, beside the Neo Greek language similar subjects as in Central European schools are taught. Ancient Greek is taught later on at high school. Beside primary school most of the children go to private schools for foreign languages. Most of them learn English.
After primary school follows high school (Gymnasio), which lasts three years. Here also foreign languages were taught - one can choose between English and French. But still the children continue with their private lessons as the quality level is much higher than in public schools.>br /> After these nine years the pupils may quit school attendance or continue with higher school (Lykio), which allows after finishing to go to university. To go to Lykio every child has to pass an entrance examination and after that has to choose one of four lines, depending which university will be attended later.
The final degree of the 12th class does not yet involve automatically the right to go to university. On every place at university there are each year more than 4 candidates. So they have to pass a very hard entrance examination. Only the best ones are allowed to study in Athens. The rest goes to the universities all over the country. Only 20 percents of the candidates have the luck to go to university.

DAILY ROUTINE OF THE GREEKS Of course there can be described only the common known and typical daily routine - but it fits to quite a lot of the Greeks. Most of them wake up between 07:00 a.m. and 08:00 a.m. and work until 02.00 p.m. After lunch it is time for siesta until 05:00 p.m. or 06:00 p.m. It would be a more or less hard mistake to call a Greek at that time. About 08:00 p.m. it is time for Volta: people are strolling along the main street and the Platia (main square) in smaller or even larger groups - still you can see male and female groups. Everybody is well dressed, watches and wants to be watched. About 10:00 p.m. the Greeks go for dinner. Pame na fame (let's go eat) - dinner takes always a long time, continuously the waiters bring dishes to the table, it looks more like a feast than a usual dinner.
If someone has guests or something to celebrate a Bouzoukia will be visited. This is a traditional music bar with Greek life-music. It is quite expansive as, as you do not order your drinks in glasses but in bottles - and it is not local wine or ouzo or tsikoudia, most of the Greeks prefer Whisky. One can order his favorite songs at the band.

In the villages men go to the kafenion instead to make the evening stroll. It is a fine place to get into contact with Greeks. Even in the smallest village there is at least one kafenion. The kafenion is the Greek coffee shop and dominated by the male population. Mainly they play cards or tavli(the Greek board game, very similar to back gammon) and they discuss - mostly about politics. Also you see them playing with the komboloi.Its origin is religious as it comes from the rosary and has its roots in Asia Minor. Many songs are telling stories about that komboloi, man counts his sorrow with its pearls.
For sure the mainly drunk beverage is coffee. There are different kinds:

  • Greek coffee - kafe eleniko: the coffee is cooked together with water in a little can. You order it
  • sketo - unsweetened
  • metrio - half sweet
  • gliko - sweet
  • Nescafe sketo, metrio, gliko and with milk - me gala
  • Frappe is iced Nescafe and a very refreshing drink
    Also you can get ouzo, which is a spirit made of anise and you drink it either pure or mixed with water - then it gets a milky-white color - and tsikoudia or also called raki, which is the most famous spirit of Crete made of grapes and tasting like the Italian grappa. Usually you get wth your spirit also a little plate with nuts or appetizers - mezedes.

    As it is mentioned above, women do not go to the kafenion. Not because it is prohibited to them, but because it is simple not usually. They meet each other in the streets, at their veranda or balcony, there they have their chats.

    During the summer months the family goes at weekends to the sea side, those who own a house at the sea, make their holidays there. Usually they take the grandparents with them. Although very few of them go for a swim, they sit in the shadow watching the younger generation or chatting with old friends.

    Last but not least a typical Greek facility has to be mentioned: the periptero. This small kiosk belongs to Greece like the kafenion. It is a kind of small supermarket, astonishing how many products you can get there. Beside newspapers, magazines and cigarettes you get all the daily stuff you need. They are open until late night and nearly ebery kiosk has a telephone at the same rates like the Greek telephone company OTE.

  • © SCI 2003 - 20XX // all rights reserved