Monday, January 7, 2013

Week 24: Greece


Greece- the birthplace of everything (well, almost)

While reading all the websites to find the interesting tidbits of info I need to be able to understand a country, I found that Greece has really given us A LOT!! This small country (about the size of Alabama) is considered the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympics, political science, most of the major principals of mathematics, Western literature, and pretty much any word that has "ph" in it.  I probably missed a few other things and I am sorry but, WOW!  Good job Greece!!  It's no wonder that the Greek people are so proud of their heritage. 

This is going to be a busy week I think.  There is so much we can talk about- Greek mythology, the ruins of ancient Greece, the language and how we derived many of our own words from it, the food (oh, the food is good!!) and on and on. 

But first here are some fun and interesting (I hope) facts -

- 80% of Greece is mountains - and the whole country used to be underwater until a huge earthquake pushed the area above the water.  There are still many earthquakes.

- There is mainland Greece and also 2,000 islands that make up the country.  Only about 200 are inhabited.

- The capital, Athens, is named after the goddess Athena.  She was reportedly given the honor when she won a contest against Poseidon as to who would give the city the best gift.  Athena gave the olive tree and Poseidon gave water.  The gods picked the olive tree.  I love olives too.  Some of the country's olive trees were planted in the 13th century and are still producing olives!

-No point in the country is more than 85 miles from the sea and the Greeks have always had a very strong connection to the water and boats. 
- They also love to dance and have over 63 folk dances.  I have a few friends who are Greek and as children they were taught the dances and competed in dance competitions in full costume.  If you've ever watched the dancing I bet you were tempted to join in - it looks like so much fun!!

-The Greek language has been spoken for almost 3,000 years making it one of the oldest languages in Europe.  Thousands of words in the English language have their origin in Greece- academy, marathon, alphabet to name just a few.

-The original Olympic games were held in Greece in 776 B.C. and were for men only.  Married women could be punished by death just for even watching them. 

- A person's Name Day is more important then their birthday.  In the Greek Orthodox religion, each Saint has an appointed day to celebrate them and most people are named after the saints in one way or another. On your Saint's name day you celebrate with cake and visitors :)  I wonder what my Name Day is??

-One of the iconic images of Greece is the white buildings with the bright blue roofs and doors.  I always just assumed it was to match the sky - wrong.  That shade of bright, turquoise blue, called Kyanos in Greece, is believe to keep away evil spirits, so it is painted on windowsills, doors and the roofs of churches.

Beautiful isn't it?? I don't think there's any more to say!


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