Greece is one of the most sought-after destinations in the world. But do you know which spot has the vibrant party scene or untouched white sandy beach? Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about the land of the Olympian gods – aside from being historical and picturesque for your Instagram posts.
#1 An Eye For an Eye
Greece has numerous taboos and the Evil Eye is one of them. It is known to be a source of envy and could bring misfortune. So don’t let your guard down; if you don’t have a talisman, say ‘skorda’ (garlic) softly and spit on yourself three times to ward off bad luck. Or, get a blue talisman with an eyeball. Your call.
#2 Cat Power (For the singer, see Cat Power)
The superstitious believe that it’s bad luck when a black cat crosses your path, but the Greek believe that when a black cat crosses a grave, it may cause the dead to rise. Also quite catty, is how the goddess Hecate assumed the form of a feline to escape the monster Typhon. From then, she extended special treatment to all cats, although cats were never worshipped on the same level as Egyptian kitties were. Mostly they were household pets that reduced the rodent populations.
#3 Tuesday the 13th
While Friday 13th is widely known to be a taboo – and a hit movie franchise – Greeks believed Tuesday the 13th to be a day of sheer bad luck. This is because it spoils notion of the 12 gods of Olympus, 12 months, 12 hours of the day and 12 of the night, 12 labours of Hercules, and 12 zodiac signs.
#4 Before The Queen Flew into the Olympics Ceremony:
Ancient Greece was a lot less theatric, but that didn’t mean there weren’t any quirks about it. Wrestling, for example, had contestants compete in the buff. Then again, most Greek statues are naked too. And since there were no medals to give away, winners would receive a jar of olives and an olive wreath.
#5 The Very Luxurious Greek Properties
Greece has some of the world’s most stunning houses (and villas), but were they fit enough for a God? Alas, no. Greek Gods perched themselves 2917 metres above the Aegean Sea on Mount Olympus. Adventure seekers today are able to hike from the eastern base of the mountain through a small town called Litochoro.
#6 800 and Still Going Strong
Salad dressing. Medicine. Beauty products. It’s no secret that olive oil does give us glowing skin. While olives came from the Mediterranean, it was first cultivated in 13th Century Greece, particularly in Crete. What is believed to be the oldest olive tree at 5,000-years-old is found in Pano Vouves, Kolymvari, Chania. There are currently over 120 million olive trees in Greece alone; so if you’re curious, book a stay at Artemis Thalassa Suite and head over to Cretan Olive Oil Farm.
#7 Tales of Parthenon
It is widely known that Parthenon was a temple built to honour Athena in 438 BC. Based on Greek mythology, whoever could produce the best gift to the king Cecrops would become the patron of Athens. Poseidon, the god of seas, presented the gift of water but it was too salty. Athena, goddess of wisdom and skill, gifted an olive tree. Naturally, that went down well with Cecrops. She went on to become the patron deity and the city was also named after her. No wonder Poseidon was pissed.
#8 The Millennial Vote
In this democratic nation, all Greeks aged 18 and above are lawfully required to vote in their general elections. It is said to increase patriotism at an early age, as the young generation are the future of Greece. Just recently in July, the parliament proposed that 16-year-olds should be allowed to vote as well.
#9 Islands, Islands Everywhere
It’s estimated that Greece has over 2,000 islands but only 166 to 227 of them are habitable. Crete is the largest of the Greek islands but if you’re wondering where to go, give this guide a go. There’s more to Greece than the epic parties in Mykonos and the Santorini sunrise. And if you’re worried about how Greece’s economy might affect travel, here’s your answer.
#10 A Night at the Greek Theatre
Did you know that theatre originated in Greece? In the late 5th century / early 6th century BC, ancient hymns known as dithyrambs were sung in honour of the god Dionysus. This developed to incorporate actors and costumes so eventually, a number of theatres were built around Athens. You can still visit the acropolis in the town of Dionysus, Athens, to get a glimpse of a theatre in ruins.