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Archive for the 'Greek Holidays' Category

Celebrating the Greek Orthodox Saturday of Souls in Greece

While Greece is a country of many religions, over ninety percent of the Greek population identifies as Eastern Orthodox Christian. This makes all related holidays a huge deal here, and today we’re going to tell you about what you can expect on a Greek Orthodox Saturday of Souls.

You’ll learn about the basics of Soul Saturday, Orthodox traditions that usually take place, and lots of useful vocabulary words.

Let’s get started.

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1. What is the Greek Saturday of Souls?

Within the Greek Orthodox Church, there’s a tradition of praying for the νεκρός (nekrós), or “dead,” every Saturday. This is done in memoriam of when Jesus died on the Great and Holy Saturday.

However, there are also two specific days set aside each year, which are often called Soul Saturday or Saturday of the Souls. On each Soul Saturday, Greek Orthodox Christians Τιμώ τους νεκρούς (Timó tus nekrús), or “honor the deceased,” and pray for their forgiveness. This is done specifically for those who have died but—for whatever reason—never had a proper memorial service.

Even before Christianity entered Greece, it was very common for the Greek people to hold memorials for their dead, in which they offered sacrifices and prayed in order to ensure the deceased’s forgiveness.

    → Check out our Religion vocabulary list for some useful words!

2. When are the Soul Saturday Dates?

A Wheat Field

The dates of Soul Saturday vary each year, based on the Eastern Orthodox religious calendar.

There are two main Soul Saturdays. The first one is on the Σάββατο πριν την Κυριακή της Απόκρεω (Sávato prin tin Kiriakí tis Apókreo), or “Saturday before Meatfare Sunday.” The second one is on the Σάββατο πριν την Κυριακή της Πεντηκοστής (Sávato prin tin Kiriakí tis Pendikostís), or “Saturday before Pentecost Sunday.”

For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s dates for the next ten years.

Year First Soul Saturday
(Saturday of Souls Before
Meatfare Sunday)
Second Soul Saturday
(Saturday of Souls Before
2020 February 22 June 6
2021 March 6 June 19
2022 February 26 June 11
2023 February 18 June 3
2024 March 9 June 22
2025 February 22 June 7
2026 February 14 May 30
2027 March 6 June 19
2028 February 19 June 3
2029 February 10 May 26

3. How Do the Greeks Celebrate Soul Saturday?

A Woman Visiting a Cemetery

The most common Saturday of Souls traditions include μνημόσυνο (mnimósino), or “memorial services,” and an accompanying τρισάγιο (trisáyio), or “special memorial prayer.” As we mentioned earlier, this is a time to pray for the deceased’s forgiveness so that they can αναπαύομαι εν ειρήνη (anapávome en iríni), or “rest in peace.” For a typical memorial service, the event will first be publicized via printed announcements; during the actual service, the Divine Liturgy will be given, followed by the memorial prayer.

In Greece, Saturday of Souls is also an opportunity for people to visit the μνήμα (mníma), or “tomb,” of a loved one. Here, they show respect to the deceased by cleaning the tombstone, taking care of the land around it, leaving flowers, burning incense, and lighting the καντήλι (kandíli), or “vigil oil lamp.”

Another popular tradition is that of eating koliva. This is a delicious dessert that consists of boiled σιτάρι (sitári), or “wheat,” raisins, cinnamon, nuts, pomegranate, and powdered sugar. This dish is handed out after a memorial service, and if there are any leftovers, they’re given to friends and family; this allows the dead to be symbolically forgiven. This custom is thought to have originated in Ancient Greece, because the Ancient Greeks used to offer the dead a similar dish of wheat and nuts.

Crete has a custom for Soul Saturday (and the day preceding it), in which people don’t cut down trees. This is because they believe there are souls sitting on the branches, and cutting the trees down would disturb them.

4. Koliva from Strangers

There’s a Greek proverb, which means in English: “He is having a memorial with koliva from strangers.” What does that mean?

Usually, when someone says this, they’re referring to the fact that someone is pretending to be generous when they’re actually giving away someone else’s money or resources!

5. Must-Know Soul Saturday Vocabulary

A Lit Vigil Oil Lamp

Let’s review some of the vocabulary words from this article!

  • Σιτάρι (Sitári) — “Wheat” [n. neut]
  • Ψυχοσάββατο (Psihosávato) — “Soul Saturday” [neut]
  • Σάββατο πριν την Κυριακή της Απόκρεω (Sávato prin tin Kiriakí tis Apókreo) — “Saturday before Meatfare Sunday”
  • Σάββατο πριν την Κυριακή της Πεντηκοστής (Sávato prin tin Kiriakí tis Pendikostís) — “Saturday before Pentecost Sunday”
  • Νεκρός (Nekrós) — “Dead” [n. masc]
  • Αναπαύομαι εν ειρήνη (Anapávome en iríni) — “Rest in peace”
  • Μνημόσυνο (Mnimósino) — “Memorial services” [n. neut]
  • Μνήμα (Mníma) — “Tomb” [n. neut]
  • Καντήλι (Kandíli) — “Vigil oil lamp” [n. neut]
  • Αγγελτήριο (Angeltírio) — “Printed announcement” [n. neut]
  • Τρισάγιο (Trisáyio) — “Special memorial prayer” [n. neut]
  • Θεία Λειτουργία (Thía Lituryía) — “Divine Liturgy” [fem]
  • Κόλλυβα (Kóliva) — “Koliva” [n. neut]
  • Ζάχαρη άχνη (Záhari áhni) — “Powdered sugar” [fem]
  • Λιβανίζω (Livanízo) — “cense” [v.]
  • Τιμώ τους νεκρούς (Timó tus nekrús) — “Honor the deceased”

If you want to hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase listed above, be sure to visit our Greek Soul Saturday vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about the Saturday of Souls, Greek Orthodox Church traditions and customs for it, and some vocab you can start using today!

Does your country have a Soul Saturday holiday, or another holiday for commemorating the deceased? Please tell us about it in the comments; we love hearing from you!

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Celebrating the Apokries Carnival in Greece

Apokries, the term for Carnival season in Greece, is a major celebration throughout the country, and one of the most colorful. With roots in both paganism and Christianity, traditions can look quite different from one region to the next!

In this article, you’ll learn all about the Greek Carnival, from its origins to modern-day celebrations around Greece. Are you ready? Let’s get started!

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1. What is Carnival?

Carnival in Greece is a period of merrymaking, entertainment, and masquerade. The atmosphere is cheerful, with many costume parties, lots of teasing, and carnivals that take place in various regions of Greece. The period of Carnival in Greek culture is also the official opening of the Triodion period, a period which is intended to prepare us for the welcoming of Easter and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ with fasting, prayer, and repentance.

The three weeks of Carnival are called Profoní (Announcement Week), Κreatiní (Meat Week), and Tyriní (Cheese Week), which is also called Tyrofágou (Cheese-eating Week). The Κreatiní week ends with Apókreo Sunday (No-meat Sunday) because from the following day, we abstain from eating meat. During the week of Tyrofágou, we eat dairy products as an intermediate step between eating meat and the fasting that will follow in the next period, the Lent.

Carnival, however, is also associated with ancient pagan events, especially with the worshipping of the god Dionysus, who would be reborn to bring spring.

2. When is the Greek Carnival Season?

Confetti, String, and Little Firecrackers

Greek Carnival (Apokries) lasts for three weeks and is celebrated seventy days before Easter, during February or March. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s start and end dates for the next ten years.

Start Date End Date
2020 February 9 March 1
2021 February 21 March 14
2022 February 13 March 6
2023 February 5 February 26
2024 February 25 March 17
2025 February 9 March 2
2026 February 1 February 22
2027 February 21 March 14
2028 February 6 February 27
2029 January 28 February 18

3. Carnival Traditions in Greece

Carnival King

For Carnival in Greece, traditions of the province show those deeper pagan roots with animal-like disguises—mainly reminiscent of billy goats—and large bells that expel the evil with deafening noises. One well-known custom is that of the Γενίτσαροι και Μπούλες (Yenítsari ke Búles), or “Janissaries and Boules,” of Naousa, who wander around the streets dancing with specific steps and wearing peculiar masks called prósopi (“faces”). In these Greek Carnival costumes, the Boules are men dressed as women, while the Janissaries wear fustanella skirts.

Carnivals are organized in large cities, the most famous one being that of Patras. Other well-known carnivals are those of Xanthi and of Moschato, in Athens. The Patras Carnival includes events such as dances, parades, a treasure hunt, a children’s carnival, and more. It culminates on the last weekend of Carnival with the evening parade of floats and their crews, and with the ritual burning of the Βασιλιάς καρνάβαλος (vasiliás karnávalos), or “Carnival King,” on St. Nicholas Pier in the harbor. The costumes of the participants and the floats are highly imaginative and occasionally Σατιρικός (satirikós), or “satirical.”

Generally, during Carnival, people roam the streets in costumes throwing streamers, confetti, and teasing each other. In the area of Plaka in Athens, however, if you see youngsters with plastic clubs, beware! They will club you hard!

4. What’s in a Name?

Do you know what the word “carnival” exactly means and where it comes from?

The word “carnival” comes from the Latin “carne levare,” which, like the Greek word apo-kriá, refers to abstinence from meat. Some experts, however, believe that it came from the also Latin “carrus navalis,” which means “nautical carriage.” The former view supports the Christian origin of the term while the latter a more pagan origin.

5. Must-Know Vocab for Carnival in Greece

People Dressed up in Costumes for Carnival

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this lesson? Here’s a list of the most important Greek vocabulary for Carnival season!

  • Κομφετί (komfetí) — “confetti”
  • Κουστούμι (kustúmi) — “costume”
  • Απόκριες (apókries) — “carnival”
  • Μασκάρεμα (maskárema) — “masquerade”
  • Πάρτι μασκέ (párti maské) — “costume party”
  • Μεταμφίεση (metamfíesi) — “disguise”
  • Βασιλιάς καρνάβαλος (vasiliás karnávalos) — “Carnival King”
  • Σερπαντίνα (serpandína) — “streamer”
  • Ρόπαλο (rópalo) — “club”
  • Καρναβάλι (karnaváli) — “Carnival”
  • Νηστεία (nistía) — “fast”
  • Χαρτοπόλεμος (hartopólemos) — “confetti”
  • Αποκριάτικος (apokriátikos) — “of or related to Carnival”
  • Κυριακή του Τελώνου και Φαρισαίου (Kiriakí tu Telónu ke Fariséu) — “Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee”
  • Κυριακή του Ασώτου (Kiriakí tu Asótu) — “Sunday of the Prodigal Son”
  • Κυριακή της Απόκρεω (Kiriakí tis Apókreo) — “Meatfare Sunday”
  • Κυριακή της Τυροφάγου (Kiriakí tis Tirofágu) — “Cheesefare Sunday”
  • Γενίτσαροι και Μπούλες (Yenítsari ke Búles) — “Janissaries and Boules”
  • Κουδούνι ζώου (kudúni zóu) — “animal bell”
  • Ο Γέρος και η Κορέλα (O Yéros ke i Koréla) — “Yeros and Korela”
  • Μάσκα (máska) — “mask”
  • Μακιγιάζ (makiyáz) — “makeup”
  • Σατιρικός (satirikós) — “satirical”
  • Γαλακτοκομικό προϊόν (galaktokomikó proión) — “dairy product”

To hear the pronunciation of each word, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to visit our Greek Carnival vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about the Carnival season in Greece with us. What are your thoughts on this holiday? Do you celebrate Carnival in your country? We look forward to hearing from you!

If you’re interested in learning more about Greek culture and holidays, you can visit the following pages on

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Theophany: Celebrating Epiphany Day in Greece

On Epiphany Day, Greece celebrates the baptism of Jesus, which manifested the Holy Trinity on Earth. This is one of the most significant Christian holidays in the country and is observed with a variety of traditions.

In this article, you’ll learn about the Epiphany holiday in Greece, from its origin to current Epiphany traditions in Greece.

At, it’s our goal to ensure that every aspect of your language-learning journey both fun and informative—starting with this article!

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1. What is Epiphany in Greece?

Theophany, or Epiphany, is a Christian holiday that’s celebrated every year to commemorate the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. It’s the third and last holiday of Christmastide, that is to say, the period from Christmas until Epiphany. This period of time is called the Twelve Days because it lasts for twelve days.

According to the Scriptures, one day Jesus appeared before John the Baptist, who was preaching and baptizing in the Jordan River, asking to be baptized. During the baptism, the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, descended from heaven and hovered over Jesus while the voice of God was heard from heaven at the same time.

This is how the Holy Trinity was manifested on Earth. Because of this occurrence, the Εκκλησία (eklisía), or “Church,” established the sacrament of baptism with the use of water. This is also why many celebrations of Epiphany in Greece have to do with water.

In some countries, the celebration of the Epiphany also has to do with the visitation of the Magi to Baby Jesus. But Epiphany Day in Greece focuses more on Jesus’ baptism.

2. Date of Epiphany

Christian Man with Bible

Each year, Greeks celebrate Epiphany on January 6. The night before is called Epiphany Eve.

3. How is Epiphany Celebrated in Greece?

Man Swimming

On Epiphany Day, in the coastal regions of Greece, the custom of the blessing of the waters takes place, something that is reminiscent of the baptism of Jesus. During the ceremony, which is also simply called “sanctification,” the waters are blessed by the wishes and invocations of the Ιερέας (ieréas), or “priest.” The immersion of the Holy Cross in the waters further purifies it.

In non-coastal regions, the ceremony can take place in a river, a lake, or even in a water reservoir. Sanctifications are also carried out in homes, where a priest with a sprig of basil sprinkles the house with Αγιασμός (ayiasmós), or “holy water.”

When the Holy Cross gets immersed into the body of water, many a daring Κολυμβητής (kolimvitís), meaning “swimmer,” or Βουτηχτής (vutihtís), meaning “diver,” dive into the icy-cold waters to retrieve it. Whoever retrieves the Cross kisses it and then shows it around the houses and receives generous gifts. In the Greek movie Madalena, which was filmed in Antiparos in 1960, there’s a typical reproduction of this custom, although somewhat tragicomic!

Another Epiphany celebration in Greece is that of the Κάλαντα των Φώτων (kálanda ton Fóton), or “Epiphany carol,” that children sing the day before the holiday. There’s also the washing of icons.

Do you remember the goblins, the demons that rise to the Earth’s surface on Christmas Eve? With the Epiphany sanctifications, they become frightened, flee, and return again to their subterranean hideout where they remain until the next Christmas Eve!

4. Theophany

The Greek word for Theophany is a compound word. Do you know which words it consists of and why?

The Greek word for Theophany consists of the word Theos (God) and from the ancient verb phaino, which means “to reveal.” The holiday is called this because, as we saw, God revealed Himself on Earth.

Words like phainomai (to seem; to appear), phenomenon, fantasy, phantom, and fanari (lantern; traffic light) derive from the verb phaino.

5. Essential Vocabulary for the Epiphany in Greece

Holy Water

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words we saw in this article? Here’s the essential Greek vocabulary for Epiphany!

  • Εκκλησία (eklisía) — “Church”
  • Ιερέας (ieréas) — “Priest”
  • Τα Φώτα (Ta Fóta) — “Epiphany”
  • Αγία Τριάδα (Ayía Triáda) — “Trinity”
  • Η ρίψη του Σταυρού (i rípsi tu Stavrú) — “The throwing of the Holy Cross”
  • Η ανέλκυση του Σταυρού (i anélkisi tu Stavrú) — “The recovery of the Holy Cross”
  • Κολυμβητής (kolimvitís) — “Swimmer”
  • Ραντίζω (radízo) — “Plash”
  • Ουρανία (Uranía) — “Ourania”
  • Αγιασμός (ayiasmós) — “Holy water”
  • Αντίδωρο (andídoro) — “Holy bread
  • Φωτεινή (Fotiní) — “Fotini”
  • Κάλαντα των Φώτων (kálanda ton Fóton) — “Epiphany carol”
  • Βουτηχτής (vutihtís) — “Diver”
  • Δαιμόνιο (demónio) — “Demon”
  • Χορός των καλικάντζαρων (horós ton kalikádjaron) — “Dance of the elves”
  • Χριστιανός (hristianós) — “Christian”
  • Βάπτιση του Ιησού Χριστού (Váptisi tu Iisú Hristú) — “Baptism of Jesus Christ”
  • Καλικάντζαρος (kalikánjaros) — “Goblin”
  • Θεοφάνια (Theofánia) — “Epiphany”
  • Ψαλμός (psalmós) — “Psalm”

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our Greek Epiphany vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about Epiphany in Greece with us!

Do you celebrate Epiphany in your country? If so, are traditions different or similar to those in Greece? Let us know in the comments; we look forward to hearing from you!

If you’re interested in learning more about Greek culture, or if you want a few more wintery words up your sleeve, you may find the following pages useful:

  • Greek Culture
  • Top 5 Pop Culture Things/Icons You Need to Know About Greece
  • Greek Slang: Popular Greek Slang Words & Phrases
  • Words for Winter Snow Days
  • How Will You Spend Your Winter Holiday?
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    Happy Greek learning! 🙂

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    Greek Culture & Holidays: The Ohi Day Celebration

    What is Ohi Day, and what role does it play in Greek culture?

    Simply put, on Ohi Day, Greece commemorates the day on which the Greek prime minister refused an ultimatum provided by the Italians in 1940. This significant action led to (and took place at the same time as) a chain of events that unraveled throughout WWII and the Greco-Italian War.

    In this article, you’ll learn the most essential Ohi Day facts: its history, current celebrations, and related vocabulary.

    At, we hope to make every aspect of your language-learning journey both fun and informative!

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    1. Ohi Day Foundations: What is Ohi Day in Greece?

    On Ohi Day, we celebrate the anniversary of OHI (NO). It’s a day of national celebration and a holiday, in memory of the “no” that the Greek prime minister and dictator Ioannis Metaxas answered to the Italian government’s ultimatum, received via the Italian ambassador, that demanded the free access of Italian troops to Greece.

    Metaxas refused this imperialistic policy of the Italian fascist Benito Mussolini, also known as Douche, on the very same day that the Italian troops invaded Epirus. So, the involvement of Greece in World War II began with the Greco-Italian War.

    The Italians retreated in the spring of 1941. This first victory of the Allies against the Axis powers boosted the morale in enslaved Europe. What followed, however, was the German invasion of Greece and the Occupation that lasted four horrible years.

    During the Greco-Italian War, music and front-page caricatures boosted morale in Greece. Sofia Vembo was the national voice that provided encouragement to the Greek soldiers on the front line with patriotic and satiric songs such as “Children of Greece, Oh Children,” “Douche puts on His Uniform,” and “Sucker Mussolini.”

    2. When is Ohi Day in Greece?

    Ohi Day is October 28

    Each year, Greeks commemorate Ohi Day on October 28.

    3. Ohi Day Celebrations & Traditions

    Laying Wreaths

    Today, every year during the events on October 28, especially during school events, these songs are always heard. Other popular songs include “Women of Epirus” and the marches “Pindos,” “Renowned Macedonia,” and “Little Evzone,” especially in parades.

    The military and student parades that take place on this day have special solemnity, and in some cases wounded war veterans participate as well. However, due to their advanced age, there are fewer and fewer veterans participating each year.

    More Ohi Day celebrations include general flag decorations, wreath laying at various military memorials in the country, and of course, our National Anthem. Its name is “Hymn to Liberty” and it’s usually heard at the end of the events. As a show of respect, we must always stand when we hear it.

    Mussolini was satirized perhaps more than any other individual of that time. Musical revues, songs, and caricatures always depict him being weaker than the Greeks, who are usually shown wearing tsarouhia, the Greek traditional shoes.

    4. What Did Metaxas Really Say?

    Historically, Metaxas did not just reply with a simple “no.” Do you know how exactly he replied?

    Metaxas replied to the Italian ambassador in French, which is an official diplomatic language, and said Alors, c’est la guerre!, in other words “So, this means war!” This refusal went through the Greek press with the word “NO,” hence the name “Anniversary of NO.”

    5. Essential Ohi Day Vocabulary

    A Document

    Here’s the essential vocabulary you should know for Ohi Day in Greece!

    • Όχι. (Óhi.) — “No.”
    • επέτειος του «ΟΧΙ» (epétios tu OHI) — “Ohi Day”
    • Ιταλός (Italós) — “Italian”
    • Ιωάννης Μεταξάς (Ioánis Metaxás) — “Ioannis Metaxas”
    • σχολική παρέλαση (scholikí parélasi) — “school parade”
    • Σημαιοφόρος (simeofóros) — “standard-bearer”
    • στρατιωτική παρέλαση (stratiotikí parélasi) — “military parade”
    • Σημαία (siméa) — “flag”
    • Τελεσίγραφο (telesígrafo) — “ultimatum”
    • Σοφία Βέμπο (Sofía Vémbo) — “Sophia Vembo”
    • 28η Οκτωβρίου (ikostí ogdói Okrovríu) — “October 28”
    • ελληνοϊταλικός πόλεμος (elinoitalikós pólemos) — “Greco-Italian War”
    • Κατοχή (Katohí) — “occupation”
    • Έλληνας (Élinas) — “Greek”
    • Επέτειος (epétios) — “anniversary”
    • Πρωθυπουργός (prothipurgós) — “prime minister”
    • Γελοιογραφία (yeliografía) — “caricature”
    • κατάθεση στεφάνου (katáthesi stefánu) — “wreath laying”
    • επεκτατική πολιτική (epektatikí politikí) — “imperialistic policy”
    • Σατιρίζω (satirízo) — “satirize”
    • Σύμμαχοι (Símahi) — “Allies”
    • Άξονας (Áxonas) — “Axis”
    • Μπενίτο Μουσολίνι (Beníto Musolíni) — “Benito Mussolini”
    • πατριωτικό τραγούδι (patriotikó tragúdi) — “patriotic song”

    To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, alongside relevant images, check out our Ohi Day vocabulary list!

    GreekPod101: The Best Greek Language and Culture Source

    We hope you enjoyed learning about the Ohi Day celebration with us! Did you learn anything new? Does your country have any special days associated with WWII? We look forward to hearing from you, as always.

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    Happy Ohi Day!

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    Dormition of the Mother of God Traditions in Greece

    Each year, when many countries are celebrating Assumption Day, Greece holds Dormition Day celebrations. This holiday, also called the day of the Dormition of the Theotokos, is when most of Greece remembers the death of the Virgin Mary and her subsequent resurrection three days later.

    If you’re asking yourself “What is Assumption Day, and how does it actually differ from Dormition?” consider this. While similar to the Assumption of Mary Day, Dormition has a greater focus on her death and resurrection, as opposed to only her assumption into Heaven.

    Learn all about the Dormition of the Mother of God with, and increase your understanding of Greece’s fascinating culture and tradition. After all, this is the first step in truly mastering a language!

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    1. What is the Dormition of the Mother of God?

    In the heart of the Greek summer, we celebrate with special solemnity the Dormition of the Mother of God, otherwise called Dekapendávgustos. In other words, the death of the Virgin Mary.

    This Marian holiday is an official public holiday and is a day of joy rather than mourning, because the Virgin Mary was resurrected just like Christ. This is why it’s also called the Easter of Summer.

    According to the religious tradition, the Virgin Mary was informed about her imminent death three days before by an angel. So she prepared herself, gave away all of her belongings, and prayed in the Mount of Olives. On the day of her death, not all of the Apostles were in Jerusalem, but a cloud took them and brought them close to her. After she died, the Apostles carried and buried her remains in the garden of Gethsemane. Three days later, the tomb was empty. The Virgin Mary was resurrected.

    Is the Assumption a holy day of obligation?

    Yes; the only exception is that if the date happens to fall on a Monday or Saturday, people aren’t expected to attend the mass for Assumption or Dormition.

    2. When is Dormition?

    August 15 Holiday Date

    Each year, the Dormition of the Mother of God is celebrated in Greece on August 15. This is the same date as the very similar Assumption Feast Day.

    3. How is it Celebrated?

    A Group of People Celebrating

    Since August is mainly a month of vacations and most Greeks are out of the cities, the celebrations of the Fifteen of August are especially intense in the islands and provinces, most notably wherever there is a church devoted to the Virgin Mary.

    For example, every year, the church of Panagia Soumela in Imathia and the Ekatontapyliani in Paros “sink” from all the visitors. In Paros especially, a huge celebration is held, while dozens of traditional fishing boats with lit torches fill up the small picturesque port of Naousa.

    The largest pilgrimage happens at the church of Megalohari in Tinos. There, thousands of faithful believers go up the paved road to the church. On the right, a mat is laid for those who go up the road on their knees in order to fulfill their votive offerings to the Virgin Mary. If you ever find yourself there, you’ll see people with wounded knees and tears in their eyes, who continue to go on through the strength of their faith. The celebrations culminate in the majestic procession and litany of the miraculous Holy Icon of Megalohari.

    In Markopoulo of Cephalonia at the dome of the church, the harmless little snakes of the Virgin Mary appear. Greeks believe that the Virgin Mary transformed the nuns of an old monastery into snakes, to help them escape from the pirates.

    4. Name Days

    Do you know who has their name day on August 15?

    The most popular names are Maria, Marios, Panagiota, Panagiotis, and Despina—all names that are related to the Virgin Mary. Maria is by far the most popular female name in Greece, something that shows the deep respect Greeks have for the Virgin Mary.
    5. Vocabulary You Need to Know for Dormition

    Virgin Mary Icon

    Here’s some vocabulary you should know for the Dormition of the Mother of God holiday in Greece!

    • Εκκλησία (eklisía) — “church”
    • Κοίμηση της Θεοτόκου (Kímisi tis Theotóku) — “Dormition of the Mother of God”
    • Νηστεία (nistía) — “fasting”
    • θρησκευτική εικόνα (thriskeftikí ikóna) — “religious icon”
    • Παναγία (Panayía) — “Virgin Mary”
    • λιτάνευση της ιερής εικόνας (litánefsi tis ierís ikónas) — “procession of the holy icon”
    • Θαύμα (thávma) — “miracle”
    • εικόνα της Παναγίας (ikóna tis Panayías) — “icon of the Virgin Mary”
    • Πάσχα του καλοκαιριού (Pascha tu kalokeriú) — “Easter of the summer”
    • Λειτουργία (Lituryía) — “church service”
    • Πιστός (pistós) — “believer”
    • Δεκαπενταύγουστος (Dekapendávgustos) — “August 15”
    • Αργία (aryía) — “holiday”
    • Πανηγύρι (paniyíri) — “fete”
    • Τάμα (táma) — “votive offering”
    • Ιερέας (ieréas) — “priest”

    To hear each vocabulary word pronounced, check out our Greek Dormition of the Mother of God vocabulary list!

    Conclusion: How GreekPod101 Can Help You Master Greek

    We hope this lesson gave you a fresh perspective on the strong faith of the Greek people in both their daily life, and during their most important religious holidays. Does your country celebrate Dormition (or Assumption)? If so, are celebrations similar or very different? Let us know in the comments!

    To continue learning about Greek culture and the language, explore, and take advantage of an array of fun and practical learning tools:

    If you prefer a one-on-one learning approach, or would like to give it a try, be sure upgrade to Premium Plus. By doing so, you can start learning Greek with your own personal teacher and a personalized plan based on your needs and goals. Yes, really!

    Greek is a lovely language and one that encompasses a deep, unique culture. It may be hard now, but know that once you’ve got it mastered, it’ll be all worth it. Best wishes from GreekPod101!

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    Pentecostal Holiday of Whit Monday in Greece

    The Pentecostal holiday of Whit Monday (also called “Monday of the Holy Spirit” or “Pentecost Monday”) is a vital celebration in Greek culture. The Greek Church actually separated the celebrations of this holiday from those of Pentecost, to ensure that its meaning and significance are always recognized despite commemorating the same events.

    By learning about the Whit Monday holiday, you’re also going to learn lots about Greek culture and values. Any successful language-learner can tell you that this is a fundamental step in actually mastering a language: Comprehending its culture.

    And at, we hope to make this learning experience enjoyable and informative!

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    1. What is Whit Monday in Greece?

    So, what is Pentecost Monday, as opposed to the Day of Pentecost?

    Although Monday of the Holy Spirit is based on the same events as the ones of the Day of Pentecost, the Greek Church ensured that the Holy Spirit’s splendor wasn’t forgotten as one of three parts of the Trinity. To do so, it decided to split the two holidays.

    This holiday celebrates the descension of the Holy Spirit onto earth, one of the most important aspects of the Christian faith.

    2. When is Monday of the Holy Spirit?

    Monday on a Calendar

    The date of Monday of the Holy Spirit varies each year, as it always takes place fifty days after Easter. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

    • 2019: June 17
    • 2020: June 8
    • 2021: June 21
    • 2022: June 13
    • 2023: June 5
    • 2024: June 24
    • 2025: June 9
    • 2026: June 1
    • 2027: June 21
    • 2028: June 5

    3. Reading Practice: Monday of the Holy Spirit Traditions

    Priest Reading from the Bible

    How is Monday of the Holy Spirit celebrated in Greece?

    This day is important to our Church because we “receive” the Holy Spirit, which always guides us to the greater good. Customs for Monday of the Holy Spirit vary from region to region. For example, on the island of Limnos, it’s custom to gather herbs like chamomile and sage for their therapeutic properties. In the olden days, people believed that this day was a “bad time,” meaning that bad things could happen, and for this reason, they were extremely careful. For example, people avoided going near the sea.

    Read the Greek text below to learn all about unique Greek traditions, from region to region, for the Whit Monday holiday. You can find the English translation directly below it.

    Στη Σμίξη των Γρεβενών οι γυναίκες μοιράζουν πίτες, γλυκά και εφτάζυμο ψωμί με μυρωδικά. Στην Αλιμπίστα Αιτωλοακαρνανίας στήνεται πρωινό πανηγύρι. Μετά τη Θεία Λειτουργία, όλοι σχηματίζουν ουρά μπροστά από τον πλανόδιο χασάπη, ο οποίος κόβει ψητά αρνιά με τον μπαλτά. Πολλοί φέρνουν πίτες, τυριά και άλλα φαγητά για να συμπληρώσουν το γεύμα. Οι ρίζες του πανηγυριού αυτού χάνονται στον χρόνο και πολλοί δεν αποκλείουν το έθιμο αυτό να αποτελεί εξέλιξη ενός αρχαίου εθίμου, που σχετίζεται με την ανατολή του ηλίου και τη λατρεία του θεού Απόλλωνα.

    Στον Βώλακα Δράμας το πρωί, νέοι με στολισμένα άλογα και μουλάρια ξεκινάνε για το ξωκλήσι του Αγίου Πνεύματος από την πλατεία του χωριού, ανεβαίνοντας το όρος «Φαλακρό». Ακολουθεί δοξολογία και πανηγύρι, όπου τρώνε το «κουρμπάνι», ένα παραδοσιακό φαγητό από κατσικάκι βραστό με χορταρικά. Έπειτα όλοι επιστρέφουν στην πλατεία του χωριού με τον ιερέα πάνω σε άλογο και την εικόνα μπροστά. Ακολουθούν γυναίκες με παραδοσιακά κρατώντας τα «δάκρυα της Παναγίας», ένα φυτό της περιοχής, και οι αναβάτες, οι οποίοι κάνουν επιδείξεις και αργότερα αλογοδρομίες.

    Για πολλούς η γιορτή του Αγίου Πνεύματος σημαίνει μόνο ένα πράγμα; τριήμερο! Επειδή η μέρα αυτή είναι αργία για τους δημοσίους υπαλλήλους και τα σχολεία, πολλοί βρίσκουν την ευκαιρία για τριήμερες αποδράσεις ή απλά για ξεκούραση.

    In Smiksi of Grevena, women hand out pies, sweets, and chickpea pulp bread with herbs. In Alibista of Aetolia-Acarnania, a morning festival is organized. After the Divine Liturgy, everyone waits in line for the itinerant butcher, who carves roasted lamb with a cleaver. Many people bring pies, cheeses, and other foods to complement the meal. Time has shrouded the origins of this festival, and many people do not exclude the chance that this custom might be the development of an ancient custom that is related to the rise of the sun and the worship of god Apollo.

    In Volakas of Drama in the morning, young people with decorated horses and mules start heading for the chapel of the Holy Spirit from the square of the village, by climbing Falakro Mountain. Praising hymns and a feast follow, where they eat the kourbani, a traditional food made from boiled young goat with greens. Later, everyone returns to the square of the village with the priest on a horse and the icon in the front. Women holding the “tears of the Virgin Mary,” a plant from the region, and wearing traditional clothing follow him, along with the jockeys, who perform demonstrations and later do horse races.

    For many, the holiday of the Holy Spirit means only one thing: A three-day weekend! Because this day is a holiday for civil servants and schools, many people take the opportunity to have three-day long getaways or simply to rest.

    4. The Holy Spirit’s Re-appearance

    Do you know when and in what form the Holy Spirit re-appeared on Earth?

    On the holiday of Epiphany, we saw the Holy Spirit appearing on Earth in the form of a dove, during the baptism of Christ in the Jordan River by
    St. John the Baptist.

    5. Useful Vocabulary for Whit Monday in Greece

    Depiction of Pentecost

    Here’s the most important vocabulary you should know for Monday of the Holy Spirit in Greece!

    • Εκκλησία (eklisía) — “Church”
    • Πεντηκοστή (Pendikostí) — “Pentecost”
    • Άγιο Πνεύμα (Ayio Pnévma) — “Holy Spirit”
    • Δευτέρα του Αγίου Πνεύματος (Deftéra tu Ayíu Pnévmatos) — “Monday of the Holy Spirit”
    • εορταστική εκδήλωση (eortastikí ekdílosi) — “Festivity”
    • Αργία (aryía) — “Holiday”
    • Αγία Τριάδα (Ayía Triáda) — “Holy Trinity”
    • Βότανο (vótano) — “Herb”
    • Πανηγύρι (paniyíri) — “Fete”
    • Τριήμερο (triímero) — “Three-day holiday”
    • Οργανοπαίχτης (organopéhtis) — “Instrumentalist”
    • Δευτέρα (Deftéra) — “Monday”
    • δημοτικός χορός (dimotikós horós) — “Folk dance”
    • Ιερέας (ieréas) — “Priest”
    • δημοτικό τραγούδι (dimotikó tragúdi) — “Folk song”
    • Θεία Λειτουργία (Thía Lituryía) — “Divine Liturgy”

    To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, check out our Monday of the Holy Spirit vocabulary list. Here, each word is listed alongside an audio file of its pronunciation and a relevant image.


    What do you think about the Monday of Holy of the Spirit in Greece? Do you celebrate this holiday in your own country? Let us know in the comments; we always love to hear from you!

    To learn more about Greek culture and the language, visit us at We provide practical learning tools for every learner, and aim to make the learning process both fun and informative! Read more insightful blog posts, study up on your vocabulary, and chat with fellow Greek learners on our community forums! You can also upgrade to a Premium Plus account to learn Greek with our MyTeacher program, which offers you one-on-one and personalized teaching with your own teacher.

    Know that your hard work in learning Greek will pay off, and you’ll be speaking like a native before you know it! And GreekPod101 will be with you for each step of your language-learning journey.

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    Protomagia: Labor Day in Greece

    May Day (otherwise known as Labor Day, or Labor Day weekend in some places) has its roots in antiquity.

    Back then, the Greeks, as well as many other people of Europe, celebrated the final victory of spring against winter, something that would bring fertility and life to nature and, by extension, to humans.

    The word “May” itself is believed to have originated from the Roman goddess Maia, who took her name from Maia, one of the Pleiades. The word maia back then meant wet nurse and mother. The celebrations of antiquity were, of course, altered over time, but they survive today as simple folk traditions.

    Taking this historical context and examining it in light of more recent events and current traditions, you’ll uncover so much about Greece’s culture. Let show you everything you need to know about May 1 Day in Greece!

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    1. What is Labor Day?

    May 1, otherwise known as Protomayá (“May Day”), is a holiday dedicated to spring and the flowers. It’s also called International Workers’ Day in memory of the uprising of the workers of Chicago on May 1886, who were demanding an eight-hour working schedule and better working conditions.

    For the labor unions, this is a day to strike, while for the rest it’s simply a public holiday. Thus, Labor Day’s meaning varies based on who you ask and who’s celebrating. Regardless, May Day in Greece is a day of historical significance and modern-day fun.

    2. When is Labor Day?

    The First of May

    Each year, May 1st Day is celebrated on—May 1st! The perfect time of year to collect Greek flowers and observe the following Greek customs for May Day.

    3. How is Labor Day Celebrated?

    People Leaping Through Fire

    How is May 1 celebrated in Greece? Read the Greek text below (and find the English translation directly below it) to learn about Greek customs during Protomagia.

    Στην Ελλάδα το πιο γνωστό έθιμο της Πρωτομαγιάς είναι το πρωτομαγιάτικο στεφάνι. Πολλοί εκμεταλλεύονται την αργία και πηγαίνουν εκδρομές στην ύπαιθρο για να μαζέψουν αγριολούλουδα και πρασινάδες, που θα πλέξουν σε στεφάνι και θα κρεμάσουν στις πόρτες τους απ’ έξω. Το έθιμο αυτό φέρνει τους ανθρώπους πιο κοντά στη φύση, ακόμα και όσους ζουν στις πόλεις. Το στεφάνι ξεραίνεται και παραμένει στις πόρτες ως τη γιορτή του Αϊ-Γιαννιού, όπου στην επαρχία το καίνε στις φωτιές που ανάβουν.

    Σε πολλές περιοχές ο Μάης ενσαρκώνεται στο «Μαγιόπουλο». Στο έθιμο αυτό ένα παιδί στολισμένο με λουλούδια τριγυρνάει στους δρόμους του χωριού μαζί με συνοδεία, και όλοι χορεύουν και τραγουδάνε τραγούδια για τον Μάη. Στη Ναύπακτο το Μαγιόπουλο συνοδεύεται από γέρους φουστανελάδες που κρατούν κουδούνια στολισμένα με ανθισμένη ιτιά. Το έθιμο αυτό, με ελάχιστες παραλλαγές, λέγεται «πιπεριά» στη βόρεια Εύβοια. Από τα χαράματα οι νέες του χωριού σκεπάζουν το σώμα μιας λυγερόκορμης κοπέλας με λουλούδια και φτέρες. Της κρεμάνε και ένα κουδούνι και αυτή είναι… η «πιπεριά».

    Σε μερικά μέρη όλοι καταβρέχουν την «πιπεριά» και τραγουδάνε παρακαλώντας για βροχή, ενώ εκείνη υποκλίνεται σε όσους τη ραντίζουν. Λένε πως πολλές φορές μετά το γύρισμα της «πιπεριάς» στους δρόμους του χωριού, βρέχει!

    In Greece, the most well-known tradition of May Day is the May Day wreath. Many people take advantage of this holiday and go on field trips in the countryside to collect wild flowers and greenery, which they will then weave into a wreath that they hang outside their doors. This tradition brings people closer to nature, even those who live in the cities. The wreath dries up and remains on the doors until the celebration of St. John, where in the province it is burned in the fires that people ignite.

    In many regions, May is personified with the May child. In this tradition, a child decorated with flowers wanders around the streets of the village with some escorts, and everyone dances and sings songs about May. In Nafpaktos, the May child is accompanied by elderly men who wear fustanela skirts and hold bells decorated with willow tree blossoms. This tradition, with a few variations, is called piperiá (“pepper tree”) in north Euboea. From the crack of dawn, the young girls of the village cover the body of a tall and beautiful young girl with flowers and ferns. They also hang a bell on her, making her piperiá.

    In some places, everyone hoses down piperiá and sings pleas for rain, while she bows to those who sprinkle her. It’s said that very often after the stroll of piperiá on the streets of the village, it rains!

    4. Additional Information

    Do you know when the first May Day protest in Greece was?

    It was in 1892 from the Central Socialist Association of Kallergis. Then another one followed the year after, with over 2,000 workers demanding an eight-hour working schedule, Sunday as a day off, and public health insurance for the victims of labor accidents. Nowadays on Protomagia, Greece holds protests, with the largest ones being in the center of Athens.

    5. Must-know Vocab

    Single White Flower

    Here’s some vocabulary you should know for May 1st Day in Greece!

    • Εργάτης (ergátis) — “worker”
    • Άνοιξη (ánixi) — “spring”
    • Μάιος (Máios) — “May”
    • Λουλούδι (lulúdi) — “flower”
    • Αργία (aryía) — “holiday”
    • εργατική Πρωτομαγιά (ergatikí Protomayá) — “Labor Day”
    • Εργαζόμενος (ergazómenos) — “employee”
    • εργατική επανάσταση (ergatikí epanástasi) — “workers’ revolution”
    • Επανάσταση (epanástasi) — “revolution”
    • πρωτομαγιάτικο στεφάνι (protomayiátiko stefáni) — “May 1st Day wreath”
    • Πρωτομαγιά (Protomayá) — “May 1st Day”
    • φτιάχνω στεφάνι (ftiáhno stefáni) — “make wreath”
    • Μαγιόξυλο (mayóxilo) — “cypress branch used on May 1st Day”
    • εργατικό σωματείο (ergatikó somatío) — “labor union”
    • το πήδημα της φωτιάς (to pídima tis fotiás) — “leaping through fire”
    • Προλεταριάτο (proletariáto) — “proletariat”
    • αμίλητο νερό (amílito neró) — “silent water”
    • εργατική τάξη (ergatikí táxi) — “working class”
    • Απεργία (aperyía) — “strike”

    To hear the pronunciation of each word, check out our May 1st Day vocabulary list, where you’ll find each word accompanied by an audio file of its pronunciation.


    As you can see, May 1 is a day of great celebration across Greece, both rooted in history and blossoming in light of the modern world. What do you think about Greece’s celebration of May 1? Does your country have similar (or very different) celebrations? Let us know in the comments!

    To learn more about the culture of Greece and the Greek language, visit us at We offer many tools to aid you in your language-learning journey, such insightful blog posts, an online community forum, and free vocabulary lists to expand your inner dictionary! You can also take advantage of our MyTeacher program to learn Greek with your own personal teacher.

    Know that your studying and practice will pay off, and you’ll soon be speaking Greek—and talking about its culture—like a native! Best wishes in your language-learning journey!

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    Kathari Deftera: How to Celebrate Clean Monday in Greece

    Clean Monday (also known as Kathari Deftera or Καθαρά Δευτέρα) is a religious holiday in Greece, and marks the beginning of Lent. This is a holiday of great importance in the country, is a strong representation of what Christianity looks like in Greece, and provides a lot of important cultural insight.

    Let guide you through all the facets of Ash Monday. This way, you can learn the Greek language in context, and gain much knowledge concerning the country and its people. Let’s get started!

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    1. What is Clean Monday in Greece?

    Clean Monday is a particularly popular celebration. It is called Clean because on this day the Lent fast that cleanses the Christians spiritually and physically begins, while it is also the end of the frenzied celebrations of the Triodion. Clean Monday is a public holiday, so families take the opportunity to gather and celebrate the beginning of Lent together, 48 days before Easter.

    2. When is Clean Monday?

    Family Flying Kite in Field

    The date of Clean Monday in Greece differs each year. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years:

    • 2019: March 11
    • 2020: March 2
    • 2021: March 15
    • 2022: March 7
    • 2023: February 27
    • 2024: March 18
    • 2025: March 3
    • 2026: February 23
    • 2027: March 15
    • 2028: February 28

    3. Reading Practice: How is Clean Monday Celebrated?

    Deep-Fried Calamari Dish

    Read the Greek text below to learn how Greeks celebrate Clean Monday! You can find the English translation directly below it.
    Για τους περισσότερους η Καθαρά Δευτέρα σημαίνει εκδρομές στην ύπαιθρο, πέταγμα χαρταετού, παραδοσιακή μουσική και φαγοπότι με νηστίσιμα φαγητά όπως η λαγάνα, ο ταραμάς, ο χαλβάς, η φασολάδα και τα καλαμαράκια. Η λαγάνα είναι ένα είδος επίπεδου άζυμου ψωμιού πασπαλισμένο με σουσάμι. Όσον αφορά τους χαρταετούς, παλιότερα οι άνθρωποι τους κατασκεύαζαν μόνοι τους με καλάμια και χαρτί. Επειδή όμως αυτό θέλει μαστοριά στο ζύγισμα για να μπορέσει να πετάξει ο χαρταετός, σήμερα οι περισσότεροι αγοράζουν έτοιμους. Τα έθιμα της καθαροδευτεριάτικης αυτής εξόδου λέγονται «κούλουμα».

    Σε πολλές περιοχές της Ελλάδας τα κούλουμα γιορτάζονται με διαφορετικούς τρόπους. Για παράδειγμα στο Γαλαξίδι η Καθαρά Δευτέρα μόνο «καθαρή» δεν είναι, καθώς από το μεσημέρι και μετά λαμβάνουν χώρα τα διάσημα «αλευρομουτζουρώματα». Εκατοντάδες κάτοικοι και επισκέπτες συγκεντρώνονται στο λιμάνι όπου και διεξάγεται ένας απίστευτος πόλεμος με τόνους από αλεύρι, φούμο και λουλάκι. Τα κυνηγητά και τα πειράγματα συνεχίζονται μέχρι το σούρουπο. Το έθιμο αυτό είναι αρκετά διασκεδαστικό, αρκεί να τηρούνται οι απαραίτητες προφυλάξεις όπως η χρήση προστατευτικών γυαλιών, μάσκας και κατάλληλων ρούχων.

    Πολλά έθιμα αυτή την ημέρα αναβιώνουν το θέμα του γάμου. «Του Κουτρούλη ο Γάμος» στη Μεθώνη ήταν ένας πραγματικός γάμος που άφησε εποχή τον 14ο αιώνα. Στη Θήβα ο «Βλάχικος γάμος», που έχει ήδη ξεκινήσει από την Τσικνοπέμπτη, κορυφώνεται με το ξύρισμα του γαμπρού και το στόλισμα της νύφης, η οποία στη πραγματικότητα είναι άντρας! Γενικά σ’ όλη την Ελλάδα πολλοί δήμοι προσφέρουν δωρεάν λαγάνες, φασολάδα, χαλβά και ελιές, όπως κάνει κάθε χρόνο ο Δήμος Αθηναίων στον Λόφο Φιλοπάππου και στο Άλσος Βεΐκου.

    Η δωρεάν προσφορά φαγητού στις καθαροδευτεριάτικες εκδηλώσεις προσελκύει κάθε χρόνο μεγάλο αριθμό κόσμου, με αποτέλεσμα να δημιουργούνται τεράστιες ουρές στους πάγκους και να εξαντλούνται οι μερίδες μέσα σε πολύ λίγη ώρα.
    For most people, Clean Monday means excursions in the countryside, flying a kite, traditional music, and a feast with fasting foods such as lagana bread, taramas (salted and cured cod roe), halva, bean soup, and squid. Lagana is a type of flat unleavened bread sprinkled with sesame seeds. Regarding the kites, in the old days, people used to make them by themselves with reeds and paper. But because this requires good craftsmanship in the weighting so that the kite can fly, today most people buy ready-made ones. The customs of this Clean Monday outing are called koulouma.

    In many areas of Greece, koulouma are celebrated in different ways. For example in Galaxidi, Clean Monday is anything but clean, as from noon and beyond, the famous flour fights take place. Hundreds of residents and visitors gather at the harbor, where an incredible war is performed with tons of flour, soot, and indigo. All the chasing and teasing continues until dusk. This custom is quite fun, as long as the necessary precautions are taken, such as the use of protective goggles, a mask, and suitable clothing.

    Many traditions on this day revive the concept of marriage. Koutrouli’s wedding in Methoni was a real marriage that made history in the 14th century. In Thebes the Vlach wedding, which has already started from Fat Thursday, culminates with the shaving of the groom and the dressing of the bride, who in reality is a man! Generally all over Greece, many municipalities offer free lagana bread, bean soup, halva, and olives, just like the municipality of Athens does every year on the Filopappou Hill and the Veikou Park.

    The offer of free food during the festivities of Clean Monday attracts a large number of people every year, resulting in long queues at the stalls and the depletion of the portions within a very short time.

    4. Additional Information

    There is also another variation on why we characterize this day as Clean. Do you know which one it is?

    The other version is that Clean Monday was named this way because in the old days the housewives used to wash their cooking utensils all day long after the feast of the carnival. Clean Monday meals may be delicious, but you can imagine the mess they leave behind on cookware!

    5. Must-know Vocab

    Path in the Countryside

    Here’s some vocabulary you should know to celebrate Clean Monday in Greece!

    • Εξοχή (exohí) — “countryside”
    • Νηστεία (nistía) — “fasting”
    • νηστίσιμο φαγητό (nistísimo fayitó) — “Lenten meal”
    • πέταγμα χαρταετού (pétagma hartaetú) — “kite flying
    • Χαρταετός (hartaetós) — “kite”
    • καθαροδευτεριάτικη έξοδος (katharodefteriátiki éxodos) — “Clean Monday outing”
    • Διασκέδαση (diaskédasi) — “fun”
    • Σαρακοστή (Sarakostí) — “Great Lent”
    • Φασολάδα (fasoláda) — “Greek bean soup”
    • Κούλουμα (kúluma) — “celebration of Clean Monday”
    • Λαγάνα (lagána) — “Clean Monday bread”
    • Χαλβάς (halvás) — “halva”
    • Αλευρομουτζούρωμα (alevromudjúroma) — “flour fight” (also known as the flour war)
    • Λουλάκι (luláki) — “indigo”
    • Ύπαιθρος (ípethros) — “countryside”
    • καλαμαράκια τηγανητά (kalamarákia tiganitá) — “deep fried calamari”
    • Χορός (horós) — “dance”
    • Ταραμάς (taramás) — “preserved fish roe
    • Ταραμοσαλάτα (taramosaláta) — “fish roe dip”

    To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, check out our Greek Clean Monday vocabulary list. Here you’ll find each word accompanied by an audio of its pronunciation.


    Now you know more about Clean Monday in Greece. What do you think of this holiday? Is there a similar celebration in your own country? Let us know in the comments!

    To learn even more about Greek culture and the language, visit us at! We offer an array of insightful blog posts, free vocabulary lists, and even an online community to discuss lessons with fellow Greek learners! You can also check out our MyTeacher program if you’re interested in pursuing a one-on-one learning experience with your own personal Greek teacher.

    We hope you enjoyed learning about Greek Clean Monday and that you took away something valuable from this lesson. Know that all of your studying and hard work will pay off, and you’ll be speaking like a Greek native before you know it!

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    Tsiknopempti: How to Celebrate Greek Fat Thursday

    Fat Thursday is one of many Greek holidays where heavy feasting takes place. This religious Greece holiday, also called Tsiknopempti, is important for you to get to know so that you can better understand Greek culture.

    Here at, it’s our goal to help you delve deep into the Greek culture and language, both efficiently and in a fun manner. So, let’s go ahead and start learning about what Fat Thursday in Greece really looks like.

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    1. What is Fat Thursday in Greece?

    Fat Thursday, or Τσικνοπέμπτη (Tsiknopémpti), is traditionally a day where grilled meat is consumed in large quantities. If you find yourself in Greece on Fat Thursday, you won’t be able to mistake what day it is, because the smell of burning fat being roasted on grills is everywhere! The event is celebrated 59 days before Easter, or Πάσχα.

    Essentially, Fat Thursday is a “last chance” of celebration and rowdiness before Easter. This is because the Lent holiday is nearby, which is a time of fasting and abstinence from all those things which will be enjoyed on Fat Thursday.

    2. When is it?

    The date of Fat Thursday varies each year, as it depends on the date of Lent and of Easter. This Greek holiday takes place the Thursday before Lent. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years:

    • 2019: February 28
    • 2020: February 20
    • 2021: February 11
    • 2022: February 24
    • 2023: February 16
    • 2024: February 8
    • 2025: February 27
    • 2026: February 12
    • 2027: February 4
    • 2028: February 17

    3. How is it Celebrated?

    Sliced Pork

    The origin of Fat Thursday is not verified, but it’s thought that it comes from the Dionysian and bacchanal festivals of the ancient Greeks and Romans. This is why many special events are often accompanied by mocking songs, teasing, speaking in a vulgar manner, and sexual innuendo.

    1- Food: Greek Meat Dishes

    In many regions, pigs, or χοίροι, are slaughtered, while outdoor grills are set up everywhere from early in the morning, continuously churning out exquisite tidbits, or Μεζές (mezés), and traditional skewered meat.

    There is plenty of meat eating, or Κρεοφαγία (kreofayía), and wine drinking, or Οινοποσία (inoposía), on this day, as it’s the last chance for rowdiness and meat consumption before Lent, or Σαρακοστή, the period of fasting. After Fat Thursday, the next opportunity for partying doesn’t occur until Easter, a whole 59 days later, which is why Greeks put so much effort into making it an enjoyable event.

    Meats eaten on this day are cooked over charcoals, or κάρβουνα (kárvuno), which strongly emit the smell of burning fat, hence the name “Fat Thursday.”

    2- Reading Practice: Marriage

    Read the Greek text below to find out about this fun custom (you can find the English translation below it).

    Η έννοια του γάμου συναντάται σε πολλά έθιμα, όπως αυτό της «Κουλουρούς» στην Πάτρα. Η Γιαννούλα η κουλουρού ντύνεται νύφη και πηγαίνει στο λιμάνι να προϋπαντήσει τον Αμερικανό πρόεδρο Ουίλσον πιστεύοντας, λανθασμένα, πως την αγαπά και θέλει να την παντρευτεί. Ο κόσμος που τη συνοδεύει διασκεδάζει με τα καμώματά της. Στη Θήβα επίσης, την Τσικνοπέμπτη αρχίζει ο περίφημος «βλάχικος γάμος» που βασίζεται στο προξενιό δύο νέων, και ολοκληρώνεται την Καθαρά Δευτέρα. Τέλος στις Σέρρες ανάβονται μεγάλες φωτιές. Αφού ψήσουν το κρέας, οι άνθρωποι πηδούν από πάνω τους.

    The concept of marriage is found in many traditions, such as that of the Koulourou (bagel saleslady) in Patras. Giannoula, who sells bagels, dresses up as a bride and goes to the harbor to meet and welcome the American president Wilson believing, mistakenly, that he loves her and wants to marry her. The people that accompany her are being entertained with her behavior. In Thebes also, on Fat Thursday the famous Vlach wedding begins, which is based on the matchmaking of two young people, and ends on Clean Monday. Finally, in Serres, large fires are being lit. After they roast the meat, people jump over them.

    The incident of Giannoula, the bagel saleslady, did happen before the second World War. Since the prank that was played on this naive woman caused so much laughter, the show was repeated for several years, so it ended up becoming a custom.

    4. Additional Information

    Why do Greek people eat meat on Thursday, as you see in the name Fat Thursday, as opposed to other weekdays?

    For the Orthodox Church, or Ορθόδοξη Εκκλησία, the fasts of Wednesday and Friday are important. Because Thursday lies between these two days, it is considered the most suitable day for revelry.

    5. Must-know Vocab

    Triodion Book

    In order to celebrate Fat Thursday in Greece, you’re going to need to know some basic vocabulary for this holiday:

    • Χοιρινό (hirinó) — “pork”
    • Κρέας (kréas) — “meat”
    • Μουσική (musikí) — “music”
    • Σουβλάκι (suvláki) — “souvlaki
    • Τριώδιο (Triódio) — “Triodion
    • Απόκριες (apókries) — “carnival”
    • Λίπος (lípos) — “fat”
    • Κρεοφαγία (kreofayía) — “meat eating”
    • Οινοποσία (inoposía) — “wine drinking”
    • Τσίκνα (tsíkna) — “smell of burning food”
    • Υπαίθριος (ipéthrios) — “outdoor”
    • Ψησταριά (psistariá) — “grill”
    • τρικούβερτο γλέντι (trikúverto gléndi) — “high jinks”
    • Μεζές (mezés) — “tidbit”
    • Κάρβουνο (kárvuno) — “charcoal”
    • Τσικνοπέμπτη (Tsiknopémpti) — “Fat Thursday”

    To hear the pronunciation of each word, visit our Greek Fat Thursday vocabulary list. Here, you’ll find an audio of each pronunciation alongside the word.


    Now you know more about how Greeks celebrate Fat Thursday. What do you think about this holiday? Does your country celebrate Fat Thursday or a similar holiday? Let us know in the comments!

    To learn more about Greek culture and the language, visit us at We offer an array of insightful blog posts, free vocabulary lists, and an online community where you can discuss lessons with fellow Greek students. You can even download our MyTeacher app for a one-on-one learning experience with your own personal Greek teacher.

    We hope you enjoyed learning about Greek Fat Thursday with us! Stay tuned for more Greek holiday articles, and keep up the good work. You’ll be a master of the Greek language before you know it!

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    How to Say Happy New Year in Greek & New Year Wishes

    Learn all the Greek New Year wishes online, in your own time, on any device! Join GreekPod101 for a special Greek New Year celebration!

    How to Say Happy New Year in Greek

    Can you relate to the year passing something like this: “January, February, March – December!”? Many people do! Quantum physics teaches us that time is relative, and few experiences illustrate this principle as perfectly as when we reach the end of a year. To most of us, it feels like the old one has passed in the blink of an eye, while the new year lies ahead like a very long journey! However, New Year is also a time to celebrate beginnings, and to say goodbye to what has passed. This is true in every culture, no matter when New Year is celebrated.

    So, how do you say Happy New Year in Greek? Let a native teach you! At GreekPod101, you will learn how to correctly greet your friends over New Year, and wish them well with these Greek New Year wishes!

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    Table of Contents

    1. How to Celebrate New Year in Greece
    2. Must-Know Greek Words & Phrases for the New Year!
    3. Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions in Greek
    4. Inspirational New Year Quotes
    5. Inspirational Language Learning Quotes
    6. How To Say Happy New Year in 31 Languages
    7. How GreekPod101 Can Help You Learn Greek

    But let’s start with some vocabulary for Greek New Year celebrations, very handy for conversations.

    1. How to Celebrate New Year in Greece

    New Year’s Day is the first day of the year, and in Greece, it is celebrated on January 1st, also known as St. Basil’s Day. It is a great opportunity for both young and old to exchange gifts, but also to celebrate together the changing of the year, usually with lots of merrymaking, music, and plenty of food and drink.

    Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?

    What is a pomegranate used for on New Year’s Day in Greece?

    If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep reading.

    The celebration for New Year’s Day starts on December 31st, with families intensively preparing for the New Year’s Eve dinner party, or [ρεβεγιόν Πρωτοχρονιάς] in Greek. On the morning of New Year’s Eve, many children go from door to door singing New Year’s carols in exchange for some pocket money. The New Year’s carols are called [κάλαντα Πρωτοχρονιάς].

    Apart from cooking and preparing the table, women pay special attention to their appearance. As it is the party of the year and, naturally, they want to look their best! The menu mainly consists of meat, but also includes lots of traditional sweets like sugar coated biscuits, or [κουραμπιέδες], honey biscuits or [μελομακάρονα] and, of course, the famous New Year’s cake, called [βασιλόπιτα].

    As the end of the night and the beginning of a new year approaches, people celebrating at home switch on their television to watch the countdown. At midnight, everyone hugs and kisses each other while giving wishes. In Greek, they say [Καλή Χρονιά!], which is like “Happy New Year” in English.
    At night, many people open a bottle of champagne as well for good luck. Then, the householder cuts the New Year’s cake or [βασιλόπιτα] after making the sign of the Cross on it three times using a knife. The first piece is cut for Christ, the second for the Virgin Mary, the third for St. Basil, and then subsequent pieces for the rest of the family members. After this, one can expect a lively party and possibly gambling with cards.

    The New Year’s cake is not just any cake! A lucky coin or [φλουρί] is hidden inside of it. As soon as each person receives his or her piece, the search begins! Whoever finds the lucky coin is said to have luck for the rest of the year!

    On the morning of New Year’s Day, “Santa Claus,” or in Greek [Άγιος Βασίλης] brings gifts to children while the grown-ups rest after the revelry of the previous night. The first tradition is called [ποδαρικό], which means “first-foot”. It’s about the first entry or visit into the house. Families make sure that first-foot is carried out by a lucky and good-hearted relative, or by their youngest child, because children are pure and guileless. Upon entering the house, the person should step inside using their right foot, so that everything to come will be “right,” or, in other words, will come with luck.

    Now it’s time to answer our quiz question-

    What is a pomegranate used for on New Year’s Day in Greece?

    The pomegranate, or in Greek [ρόδι], is a symbol of abundance, fertility, and good luck. In many parts of Greece, after the year changes, Greeks forcefully throw a pomegranate outside the threshold of their front door, smashing it into many pieces. It is believed that this brings good fortune and an abundance of goods to the household.

    Happy New Year!
    Καλή χρονιά!

    2. Must-Know Greek Words & Phrases for the New Year!

    Greek Words & Phrases for the New Year

    1- Year


    This is pretty self-explanatory. Most countries follow a Gregorian calendar, which has approximately 365 days in a year, while in some cultures, other year designations are also honored. Therefore, New Year’s day in Greece could fall on a different day than in your country. When do you celebrate New Year?

    2- Midnight


    The point in time when a day ends and a new one starts. Many New Year celebrants prefer to stay awake till midnight, and greet the new annum as it breaks with fanfare and fireworks!

    3- New Year’s Day


    In most countries, the new year is celebrated for one whole day. On the Gregorian calendar, this falls on January 1st. On this day, different cultures engage in festive activities, like parties, parades, big meals with families and many more.

    You can do it!

    4- Party


    A party is most people’s favorite way to end the old year, and charge festively into the new one! We celebrate all we accomplished in the old year, and joyfully anticipate what lies ahead.

    5- Dancing


    Usually, when the clock strikes midnight and the New Year officially begins, people break out in dance! It is a jolly way to express a celebratory mood with good expectations for the year ahead. Also, perhaps, that the old year with its problems has finally passed! Dance parties are also a popular way to spend New Year’s Eve in many places.

    6- Champagne


    Originating in France, champagne is a bubbly, alcoholic drink that is often used to toast something or someone during celebrations.

    7- Fireworks


    These are explosives that cause spectacular effects when ignited. They are popular for announcing the start of the new year with loud noises and colorful displays! In some countries, fireworks are set off to scare away evil spirits. In others, the use of fireworks is forbidden in urban areas due to their harmful effect on pets. Most animals’ hearing is much more sensitive than humans’, so this noisy display can be very frightful and traumatising to them.

    Happy Near Year!

    8- Countdown

    αντίστροφη μέτρηση
    andístrofi métrisi

    This countdown refers to New Year celebrants counting the seconds, usually backward, till midnight, when New Year starts – a great group activity that doesn’t scare animals, and involves a lot of joyful shouting when the clock strikes midnight!

    9- New Year’s Holiday

    γιορτή της Πρωτοχρονιάς
    yortí tis Protohroniás

    In many countries, New Year’s Day is a public holiday – to recuperate from the party the previous night, perhaps! Families also like to meet on this day to enjoy a meal and spend time together.

    10- Confetti


    In most Western countries, confetti is traditionally associated with weddings, but often it is used as a party decoration. Some prefer to throw it in the air at the strike of midnight on New Year’s Eve.

    11- New Year’s Eve

    παραμονή Πρωτοχρονιάς fem
    paramoní Protohroniás

    This is the evening before New Year breaks at midnight! Often, friends and family meet for a party or meal the evening before, sometimes engaging in year-end rituals. How are you planning to give your New Year greetings in 2018?

    12- Toast


    A toast is a type of group-salutation that involves raising your glass to drink with others in honor of something or someone. A toast to the new year is definitely in order!

    13- Resolution


    Those goals or intentions you hope to, but seldom keep in the new year! Many people consider the start of a new year to be the opportune time for making changes or plans. Resolutions are those intentions to change, or the plans. It’s best to keep your resolutions realistic so as not to disappoint yourself!

    14- Parade


    New Year celebrations are a huge deal in some countries! Parades are held in the streets, often to celebratory music, with colorful costumes and lots of dancing. Parades are like marches, only less formal and way more fun. At GreekPod101, you can engage in forums with natives who can tell you what Greek New Year celebrations are like!

    3. Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions

    New Year’s Resolutions List

    So, you learned the Greek word for ‘resolution’. Fabulous! Resolutions are those goals and intentions that we hope to manifest in the year that lies ahead. The beginning of a new year serves as a good marker in time to formalise these. Some like to do it in writing, others only hold these resolutions in their hearts. Here are our Top 10 New Year’s resolutions at GreekPod101 – what are yours?

    Learn these phrases and impress your Greek friends with your vocabulary.

    New Year's Resolutions

    1- Read more

    Θα διαβάζω περισσότερο.
    Tha diavázo perisótero

    Reading is a fantastic skill that everyone can benefit from. You’re a business person? Apparently, successful business men and women read up to 60 books a year. This probably excludes fiction, so better scan your library or Amazon for the top business reads if you plan to follow in the footsteps of the successful! Otherwise, why not make it your resolution to read more Greek in the new year? You will be surprised by how much this will improve your Greek language skills!

    2- Spend more time with family

    Θα περνάω περισσότερο χρόνο με την οικογένεια.
    Tha pernáo perisótero hróno me tin ikoyénia.

    Former US President George Bush’s wife, Barbara Bush, was quoted as having said this: “At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, a parent.” This is very true! Relationships are often what gives life meaning, so this is a worthy resolution for any year.

    3- Lose weight

    Θα χάσω βάρος.
    Tha háso város.

    Hands up, how many of you made this new year’s resolution last year too…?! This is a notoriously difficult goal to keep, as it takes a lot of self discipline not to eat unhealthily. Good luck with this one, and avoid unhealthy fad diets!

    4- Save money

    Θα κάνω οικονομία.
    Tha káno ikonomía.

    Another common and difficult resolution! However, no one has ever been sorry when they saved towards reaching a goal. Make it your resolution to save money to upgrade your subscription to GreekPod101’s Premium PLUS option in the new year – it will be money well spent!

    5- Quit smoking

    Θα κόψω το κάπνισμα.
    Tha kópso to kápnisma.

    This is a resolution that you should definitely keep, or your body could punish you severely later! Smoking is a harmful habit with many hazardous effects on your health. Do everything in your power to make this resolution come true in the new year, as your health is your most precious asset.

    6- Learn something new

    Θα μάθω κάτι καινούριο.
    Tha mátho káti kenúrio.

    Science has proven that learning new skills can help keep brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s at bay! It can even slow down the progression of the disease. So, keep your brain healthy by learning to speak a new language, studying towards a qualification, learning how to sew, or how to play chess – no matter how old you are, the possibilities are infinite!

    7- Drink less

    Θα πίνω λιγότερο.
    Tha píno ligótero.

    This is another health resolution that is good to heed any time of the year. Excessive drinking is associated with many diseases, and its effect can be very detrimental to good relationships too. Alcohol is a poison and harmful for the body in large quantities!

    8- Exercise regularly

    Θα γυμνάζομαι τακτικά.
    Tha yimnázome taktiká.

    This resolution goes hand-in-hand with ‘Lose weight’! An inactive body is an unhealthy and often overweight one, so give this resolution priority in the new year.

    9- Eat healthy

    Θα τρώω υγιεινά.
    Tha tróo iyiiná.

    If you stick with this resolution, you will lose weight and feel better in general. It is a very worthy goal to have!

    10- Study Greek with GreekPod101

    μελετώ ελληνικά με το
    meletó eliniká me to ‘’

    Of course! You can only benefit from learning Greek, especially with us! Learning how to speak Greek can keep your brain healthy, it can widen your circle of friends, and improve your chances to land a dream job anywhere in the world. GreekPod101 makes it easy and enjoyable for you to stick to this resolution.

    4. Inspirational New Year Quotes

    Inspirational Quotes

    Everyone knows that it is sometimes very hard to stick to resolutions, and not only over New Year. The reasons for this vary from person to person, but all of us need inspiration every now and then! A good way to remain motivated is to keep inspirational quotes near as reminders that it’s up to us to reach our goals.

    Click here for quotes that will also work well in a card for a special Greek new year greeting!

    Make decorative notes of these in Greek, and keep them close! Perhaps you could stick them above your bathroom mirror, or on your study’s wall. This way you not only get to read Greek incidentally, but also remain inspired to reach your goals! Imagine feeling like giving up on a goal, but reading this quote when you go to the bathroom: “It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.” What a positive affirmation!

    5. Inspirational Language Learning Quotes

    Language Learning Quotes

    Still undecided whether you should enroll with GreekPod101 to learn a new language? There’s no time like the present to decide! Let the following Language Learning Quotes inspire you with their wisdom.

    Click here to read the most inspirational Language Learning Quotes!

    As legendary President Nelson Mandela once said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” So, learning how to say Happy New Year in Greek could well be a way into someone special’s heart for you! Let this year be the one where you to learn how to say Happy New Year, and much more, in Greek – it could open many and unexpected doors for you.

    6. How To Say Happy New Year in 31 Languages

    Here’s a lovely bonus for you! Why stop with Greek – learn how to say Happy New Year in 31 other languages too! Watch this video and learn how to pronounce these New Year’s wishes like a native in under two minutes.

    7. Why Enrolling with GreekPod101 Would Be the Perfect New Year’s Gift to Yourself!

    If you are unsure how to celebrate the New Year, why not give yourself a huge gift, and enroll to learn Greek! With more than 12 years of experience behind us, we know that GreekPod101 would be the perfect fit for you. There are so many reasons for this!

    Learning Paths

    • Custom-tailored Learning Paths: Start learning Greek at the level that you are. We have numerous Learning Pathways, and we tailor them just for you based on your goals and interests! What a boon!
    • Marked Progress and Fresh Learning Material Every Week: We make new lessons available every week, with an option to track your progress. Topics are culturally appropriate and useful, such as “Learning how to deliver negative answers politely to a business partner.” Our aim is to equip you with Greek that makes sense!
    • Multiple Learning Tools: Learn in fun, easy ways with resources such 1,000+ video and audio lessons, flashcards, detailed PDF downloads, and mobile apps suitable for multiple devices!
    • Fast Track Learning Option: If you’re serious about fast-tracking your learning, Premium Plus would be the perfect way to go! Enjoy perks such as personalised lessons with ongoing guidance from your own, native-speaking teacher, and one-on-one learning on your mobile app! You will not be alone in your learning. Weekly assignments with non-stop feedback, answers and corrections will ensure speedy progress.
    • Fun and Easy: Keeping the lessons fun and easy-to-learn is our aim, so you will stay motivated by your progress!

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    There’s no reason not to go big in 2018 by learning Greek with GreekPod101. Just imagine how the world can open up for you!