Greece is an amazing country, living here for a whole calendar year made experience incredible stories that (I keep promising to myself), sooner or later are bound to end up in a book. A complete year of Greek life also taught me a lot about traditions and superstitions that I started observing, fearing, and even putting into practice myself: A little bit for fun, and another bit because… you never know! So you only need to take a look at the following list of beliefs and superstitions to add a touch of Greek luck to the end of the year.
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Where to stay in Greece
If you’re looking for accommodation in Greece, compare offers on Booking.com and Hotels.com. If you prefer to stay in an Airbnb, here you can find great deals. Check alternatives on Tripadvisor.
Top-rated tours in Greece
Athens: Acropolis Small-Group Guided Tour with Entry Ticket (Top pick from US$ 71.23).
Crete: Boat Cruise to Balos Lagoon & Gramvousa from Kissamos (From US$ 29.65).
Santorini: Guided Winery Tour (From US$ 72.50).
Mykonos: The Original Morning Delos Guided Tour (Traditional best-seller from US$ 65).
Zakynthos: Navagio Shipwreck Beach & Blue Caves Tour (From US$ 53.25).
Value for money
Athens: Combo Ticket Pass for Museums & Hop-On Hop-Off Bus (City card from US$ 65).
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The evil eye
This ancient superstition is my favorite of all. And it’s the perfect excuse to buy tons of Greek lucky charm in any possible version: Bracelets, rings, necklaces, bags, and more.
They say that evil eye can strike any moment. You just need someone making a compliment, for minor catastrophe striking a minute later. That’s the evil eye hitting on you.
Blue charms shaped like eyes or just blue beads protect you from this bad luck. The legend says that anything that’s blue will protect you from the evil eye. But they also say that people with blue eyes are exceptional givers of the evil eye.
Another lucky charm against its is garlic. But, of course, the bulbous object might be a bit inconvenient inside your pocket or your bra, so remember: repeat the word skorda (the Greek for garlic) whenever someone makes a compliment. Then, spit three times on yourself.
Bread is always holy
Bread comes to us as a gift from God, and it is a protagonist in several pages of the Bible. I even remember seeing my grandma kissing a piece of bread before slicing it. I have seen the same ritual in lonely villages, places where, God forbid, no bread is ever thrown away.
>> Read everything about bread in Greece <<
Some consider the bones of bats to be carriers of good fortune and even carry a small chip of bat bone with them all the time. On a side note, though, killing a bat is thought to bring extremely bad luck, so act accordingly!
Lucky pomegranate seeds
Another all-time-favorite lucky charm is this fruit, symbol of prosperity, joyful times and fertility all over Greece. The tradition of smashing a pomegranate on your threshold on New Year’s Eve is still very much alive in my village.
And locals say that the more seeds you spread and the more mess you make, the more luck and prosperity you will get in the new year. Those cleaning the floor might agree a bit less, though.
Knives and crows
Bad luck can come in different shapes. Like with salt back in my country, remember to never, ever hand a knife to a Greek. Just put it on the table and then let others pick the knife themselves if you want to avoid a fight.
Misfortune and bad news come together with the sight of crows. In fact, when locals see or hear them cawing, people would say Sto kalo, kala nea na me feris or something like “fly and bring back good news”.
Show me the money
The more I get to know the local customs, the more I wonder about my grandma’s origins… Because many (and I mean really a lot) of the local superstitions had been introduced to me during my childhood by my grandmother, this first and foremost: Money attracts money. As a logic result, you should never have a wallet, purse or pocket empty, the same goes for your bank account. Equally, if you decide to give a wallet as a present, always give it with a coin inside.
Salt and onions
These two are some of the most popular medicines in Greek folklore. Onions apparently have healing powers for breathing issues, but also for bones and sprains.
Salt is a house cleaner, if you are moving to a new house, sprinkle some of it before entering so that all evils are driven away. If you want someone to leave your house because… well, let’s say you’ve got better things to do, drop some salt behind them, and they’ll leave.
Go and buy that cactus
I didn’t know about this one until I received one from a neighbor. Every Greek household should have a cactus near the front door. This is the evil eye for buildings, and I’m sure you’ve seen them around the islands growing proud in tomato sauce cans or huge feta cheese containers
Greek spitting: Ftou, ftou, ftou!
There are lots of reasons why spitting is common in Greece, spitting will:
1) Keep evil away from you and others
2) Avoid misfortune or bad news also happening to you or others
Tradition wants you (or someone else) spitting three times repeating Fitse ston korfo su (or at least this is what I hear and meaning spit on yourself).
Something I heard recently is that fishermen spit on their nets before putting them at sea both to keep the evil eye at a distance but also to get plenty of fish.
Tuesday 13th is the unlucky day of Greece, not Friday (again, like back in my country!). The same goes for black cats or making a toast with coffee or water.
Other oddities from the Greek folklore and superstitions include:
- Greeks shouting Pease kokkino (touch red!) if two people say or think the same at the same time. Both persons have to touch something that’s red immediately!
- Greeks treating of putting pepper on your tongue when you curse (if this was true, I’d be dead already!)
- Remember, don’t you ever fall asleep under a cypress, it will steal your brains!
Are you ready to explore Greece? It can be the trip of your lifetime. Get in touch if you need extra help to plan your itinerary. If you happen to also tour West Crete, check this guide. You’ll find detailed info about where to go, what to see, where to eat, and more!
Want more? Join my Private Facebook Group to connect with like-minded travelers who love Crete as much as you do!
Coming to Greece any time soon? These resources will help you organize the trip!
Probably, you’re planning to experience the thrilling island-hopping experience. Head to this article and read about the best cruise ports in Greece.
To have updated information about the island of Crete, as well as about the rest of Greece, join my private group on Facebook about Crete and download a copy of my West Crete Travel Guide to have it always with you if you visit Crete!
Finally, make sure you’ve got everything you for a hassle-free trip!
I never move around the islands without my Osprey backpack, a sturdy, light, roomy, and super comfortable travel partner I just love. To visit villages, sites, and museums instead, I carry this little crossbody bag.
When driving around, I pack my Nikon D7200. In Summer I also carry good sunscreen lotion, the sun on the island can be pretty aggressive. Always bring with you a good travel guide! Lonely Planet’s Best of Greece & the Greek Islands.
Airfares to Greece can change from one airline to the other, make sure to compare prices with a powerful search engine. Planes are fast, but nothing like the romantic experience of traveling by sea in Greece, book your ferry tickets in advance at the lowest price, with no hidden fees or extra costs.
Sometimes, the best way to get to know a place and make the most of your time is to join an organized tour. GetYourGuide has top-rated tours to save time and money. From cooking lessons to archaeological site tours, skip-the-line attractions, and even airport transfer!
Do you have everything you need? Then you just have to get ready to discover Greece!
These articles about Greece have been thought just for you!
If you’re curious about traveling the Greek islands, check the most amazing places to visit in Greece. Crete is my favorite island of all, and these 50 unmissable things to do in Crete is a great article from where to start planning a visit. Greece is also an ideal place for scuba diving, here you can discover where to do it on the islands.
Head to this article to check the best ports for cruises in Greece. This guide, instead, shows you the best things you can do in Athens if you visit for three days. If you have less time in the capital of Greece, find inspiration in this article describing all you can do if you have one day to spend in Athens.
Are you superstitious?
Let me know in the comments below!
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About the Author
Hola! I’m Gabi. Welcome to The Tiny Book – Crete Travel Blog! I moved to Crete to explore the island all year round. I love taking pictures and driving on the mountain roads of Crete. I’m a beach freak and on this island I’ve found heaven on earth!
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