We’ve been in Greece for almost two months now, but are just beginning to grasp the richness and complexities of Greek culture. We thought we would offer you three interesting cultural realities here in Greece (please understand that we are painting with broad strokes here). There are many others worth noting, but that will be for another post.
1. A shared interest. Greeks value community. For example, this week I went to visit our local pharmacist in order to pick up some of my asthma medication. He is a very friendly man, and speaks great English (a big draw). I had visited this pharmacist on two other occasions – but he does not have any of my contact information. I didn’t know how much my medicine would cost, and soon found out that I was 20 Euros short (almost 28 US dollars). I apologized to the pharmacist and explained that I would have to come back tomorrow to purchase the medicine, since I didn’t have enough cash today (like many smaller stores in Greece, they don’t do credit cards). Rather than allow me to leave the store empty-handed, the pharmacist insisted that I take the medicine and pay when I could. In short, my pharmacist saw me as a neighbor first, and a customer second!
2. Kiss and tell. Greeks aren’t bashful about public displays of affection – at least as judged by North American standards. Rather than a quick peck, Greeks can often be seen giving long, drawn out goodbye kisses to their love interest. We’ve run across this many times at our neighborhood subway station. Others on the street pass by and don’t seem to notice, while many North Americans would want to scream, “Get a room!”
3. A late night and an afternoon nap. While Kristin and I start thinking about dinner right after lunch, Greek usually don’t eat dinner until nine in the evening (especially in the summer). The restaurants in the Platia (something like a neighbor square) at the end of our block are bustling with people well into the night. However, this late night revelry makes its own demand on the lives of the Greeks – an afternoon nap! From 2 pm to 6 pm the neighborhood abides by “quiet hours.” In fact, it is often quitter on our street at 2 pm than 2 am. While Kristin and I are thinking about a meal at 6 pm, most Greeks are seeking out a Frappe – an iced coffee drink that is a local favorite – in order to wake up from their afternoon nap. By the way, most government offices and many private businesses are closed by 2 pm.
We will be sure to share more about Greek culture as our time here goes on. Thank you for your continued partnership in our ministry here. A few points for prayer: (1) We begin language school on Tuesday (every Tuesday and Thursday evening until mid-December). We are simultaneously thrilled and petrified. (2) I had a meeting this afternoon to discuss the re-opening of “The Nest” – our sheltering and discipling ministry – which will be my major responsibility on the team. Please pray for God’s direction and provision. (3) Kristin loves teaching English. She has begun a new series of lessons using bible stories. Some of the students have been asking to know more about particular biblical personalities. Pray for these students! Love, Peace, & Grace! – B & K