Imagining some faraway land, a perfect place to relax, to have rest, regain peace of mind and feel spiritually enriched, people often think of Greece. This country seems to be so attractive and inviting. It allures not just with its warmth, thrilling sea and glaring sunshine, but with its originality, rich culture, traditions, the mystery, the enigma, which hovers in the air and keeps the history of everything that ever happened on this land. Greece has always been a magical place for strangers, who wanted to find serenity and join the culture, which is about 3,000 years old.
Greece has a very rich and eventful history. Academics and historians often say that Greece is the birthplace of Western civilizations, and Greek people are certain it is so. They are proud of having created about 2,500 years ago a way of life, which was not only perfect for them, but was admired and copied by others. Ancient Greece gave to the world civilization not only lifestyle and art, but showed the new living standards. Ancient Greeks made substantial discoveries and significant contributions in different life areas. The concept of democracy appeared first and was implemented in Athens; since 510 BC citizens could vote and make decisions. The Olympic Games, which are still the most popular and important sport competition all over the world started in Greece as a religious festival held in honor to Zeus. Up to now, every sportsman dreams to achieve the required level and to represent his country on the Olympics.
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Greece left some important ideas in thinking about life; the basis of modern philosophy would not be the same without Socrates’ thoughts, Plato’s reflections and Aristotle’s ideas. Science also knew the period of prosperity in Classic Greece. The mathematics is based on the discoveries of the ancient world. The Pythagorean theorem is one of the rules that every child learns in school. Memorizing the multiplication table in grades, children do not even think that it was invented by a man who lived in the sixth century BC.
Ancient Greece also became a cradle for the theater and dramatic art. Some of the amphitheaters are preserved until today as the theater of Dionysus in Athens is built in the fifth century BC and Delphi Theatre built a century later. A lot of literary works of genius ancient Greek writers like Homer, Aesop, Aeschylus, the father of the European tragedy, Sophocles and Euripides, were played on these amphitheaters; their works are still read and appreciated by many people all over the world. All the heritage of Ancient Greece – arts, architecture, costumes, pottery, goods and other benefits of civilization – were of a high quality and made a significant contribution to the future.
At the Ancient Times, the territory of Greece was much larger than it is today. Nowadays, it is situated on one continent located is Southern Europe. The mainland is located on the Balkan Peninsula. Greece also has islands like Crete, Corfu and Rhodes. Greek territory is bordering the Ionian and the Mediterranean Seas. The relief of this country is mostly mountainous; the northern area near the Bulgarian border is covered with vast and thick forests. The climate is predominantly temperate, warm and quite mild, but it can be humid near the sea. Most of the time Greece is all in sunshine, however, the snowfalls happen on the mountains. Greek nature and its atmosphere were always attractive for millions of tourists.
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Greece has a very rich culture; it is safe to say that Ancient Times influenced it considerably. Greek people have many interesting and diverse traditions, which have thousands years of history. Greece is the place where East meets West, not just geographically, but also in a cultural sense. This crossing can be noticed in music, food, habits or superstitions. However, one of the most important features of the Greek people is their attitude to the concept of the family. Family relationships are favored and esteemed. For Greeks, marriage is not just a social event, but an important and responsible step in life. Family is considered not only the couple/ people related by blood or marriage; it is a unity, which gives its members the support – both emotional and financial. The family roles are strictly divided. According to Walthon:
The man is the family’s outside representative, enjoying the social prestige and esteem, but the woman traditionally was and is the organizer of the household, the mediator in family disputes, and the guardian of the family’s unity. The family’s prestige often rests on the woman’s ability to carry out her household duties properly.
Greeks love to celebrate different holidays and events. They usually do it surrounded by family and friends.
A lot of Greek customs and traditions are related to the religion. The most important celebration of the year is Easter, and then Christmas. Despite of the polytheism of the Ancient Greece and the fact that the mythology has influenced the culture considerably, today Greeks pray to one God. The majority of the population makes part of the Greek Orthodox Church, which significantly affects the society.
As every country, Greece has its particularities, which could be a bit shocking for the strangers and take time to be perceived as ordinary. For example, as Ryan says:
It is often said that Greek people would rather relax than rush through their daily routines. Locals seem to spend hours at coffee shops and are often late for meetings. Time in Greece seems to move more slowly (although foreigners are expected to be on time).
People who want to go to Greece should be prepared. They are not supposed to talk about Cyprus and Turkey or say “okay” too much because for locals it sounds like “no”. It can be an important information because, as Williams says (1991) “the small number of Greeks travelling abroad makes Greece a country of tourist destination rather than of origin” (p.98). It is enough to visit Greece once to fall in love with it.