Greek Games; Children’s Traditional Games in Greece
CRIPPLING: The children rule a rectangle on the cement and using parallel lines , they divide it into 4 parts , the stairs. The first 3 should be equivalent to one another , but the last one is about 3x bigger than the others and it is called king. The children number the stairs and they take it off for the turn to be determined, but every child gets to play and take a turn. The child who goes first , takes a small flat stone , which is called the team and throw it to the first stair. Then, crippling with his or her left leg he/she jumps with the right one from one stair to another stair. When he/she reaches the king he/she can rest or turn , trying not to put down the curved leg . Then he/she makes the same road backwards crippling, and when he/she reaches the stair where the stone is , he/she hits it with the edge of his/her shoe , throwing it out , he/she jumps and steps on it . The same should he/she does with the rest stairs. The child who is playing , must not put down his/her clippled leg , step with his/her good leg some line or throw the team on a line. If he/she makes a mistake, he/she loses his/her turn and the next child plays. If the child finishes with all the stairs without making a single mistake, he/she makes a rubo. The child who collects three rubos is the winner of the game.
Caps: This game is played outside. Two players are allowed to play this game at a time. Both players have their own cap. They sit down about 2 feet away from each other. In the middle there should be a hole 2cm deep. The players play in turns. In the beginning the first player pushes his cap towards the hole. The first player that manages to push his cap into the hole wins. This game is for ages 6 years and older.
Hopscotch: Draw 8 squares or more on the ground with the chalk. The squares must be one on the left and one on the right and show a rectangle. Put the rock in front of the first square. Then move towards the first square, jump on your leg and try to push the rock with one leg into the first square. Then, if you started from the left square, push the rock to the right and vice versa. You must push the rock into all the squares without moving it out of the square. If you push the rock out of the square that you want to move into, you lose. It is played in Greece, just as it is played here in the United States.
Easter, National Anniversary, and The Carnival; 3 Greek Festivals/Holidays You Need to Know
Easter: Being the most important Greek celebration of the year, it starts 7 weeks before Easter Sunday and comes to its time of greatest importance and highest celebration during the Holy Week. This is when Services are held every evening in the neighborhood churches. On Good Friday, a special celebration takes place when all the flowered tombs of the Christ (named Epitaphios) are gathered at the squares and make the tour of the towns. The highest time of celebration of the Easter holiday is on Good Saturday at midnight, when pilgrims go the church and get the Holy Light. At midnight exactly, the priest will show up holding a lighted torch and shares the Holy Flame on the candles of near worshippers. Then, the worshippers share at their turn the Holy Light with their close neighbours until the entire church and the courtyard. After that, fireworks can be seen going off in the streets around the Church. Worshippers often will bring the burning candles home and make with the black smoke of the candle the sign of a cross above their door. This custom is supposed to bring good fortune into the house.After midnight, families and friends eat “magiritsa”, a soup made from lamb tripe, rice, dill and lemon. The rest of the lamb is grilled on Sunday morning for lunch, accompanied by wines and dances. This festival is of very important in all the regions of Greece but some places, such as Corfu and Chios, are very famous for their Easter celebrations. In some towns, the Burning of Judas takes place on Easter Sunday in the evening.
National Anniversary: This day is full of dedicative military parades. It is also called “Ohi Day”, meaning Day of No, in honor of the negative answer of the Greeks when the Italians asked them to surrender during World War II, on October 28th, 1940. The Greeks fought for their country against the Italians and managed to win a number of battles, even though they were fewer in number and didn’t have technological military equipment like their opponents. However, the coordinate attack of the German-Italian forces in April 1941 succumbed the Greek army.
The Carnival: “Apokries”, also known as The Carnival, is expressed by three weeks of lots of food and dancing. The Carnival takes place three weeks before Lent Monday. Important Carnival Parades take place in Patra, Xanthi, Corfu and Rethymno with intensely eventful parties. The exact dates of the Carnival vary from date to date, depending on the official Easter date. Actually, the Carnival finishes 7 weeks before Easter.
Five Must See Greek Destinations; Are you visiting?
Santorini: Santorini is a volcanic island in the Cyclades group of the Greek islands. Santorini is mostly famous for its dramatic views, stunning sunsets, the white-washed houses, and its very own active volcano. Fira, the capital of Santorini, is a marriage of Venetian and Cycladic architecture, of which has white cobblestone streets filled with shops, taverns, hotels and cafes, while clinging on the edge of the 1,300 ft high cliffs.
Parthenon, Acropolis: The Parthenon on top of the Acropolis is a very famous Greek tourist attraction and a visit to Athens is not a fulfilling one without visiting this temple. The construction of the Parthenon began in 447 BC, replacing an older temple that was destroyed by the Persians, and finally finished in 432 BC. During its long life the Parthenon has served as a temple, fortress, a church, a mosque and even as a powder magazine.
Mykonos: a cosmopolitan destination among the Greek islands and is highly credited as one of the best tourist attractions in Greece. Mykonos Town (Chora) is an aesthetic and beautiful Cycladic town with a maze of tiny streets and whitewashed steps lanes. It is also known for its sandy beaches and diverse and intense nightlife as evidenced by a vast number of bars and nightclubs for tourists and civilians alike.
Delphi Theatre: home to the sanctuary and oracle of Apollo. The ancient theatre of Delphi was built on a hill giving entertainment watchers a view of the entire sanctuary and the spectacular landscape below. It was built at first in the 4th and could seat 5,000 spectators. Today it is one of the top tourist attractions in all of Greece.
Mount Athos: Stunning and gorgeous landscaping, Mount Athos is a mountain and a peninsula in northern Greece. The peninsula, the easternmost “leg” of the larger Halkidiki peninsula houses up to 1,400 monks in 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries.
Great Greek Folk Tales for Kids
The Most Beautiful Child: A long time ago all the various birds had one teacher to teach all of their children. One day the kids were being very unruly and to punish the kids, their teacher ordered them to fast. The owl took some bread and went towards the school so that it may give its’ child something to eat, and on its’ way, the owl met a partridge. The partridge asked the owl, “Where are you going?” The owl said, “I’m taking some food to my child so that it may have something to eat.” The partridge then said to the owl, “Please take some bread from me and give it to my child so that it may not go hungry either.” The owl looked at the partridge and said, “I do not know your child, how will I recognize it?” The partridge then said to the owl, “You will know my child when you see it as it is the most beautiful child.” The owl went to the school and gave its’ child some food to eat. When the owl looked for the partridge’s child it could not recognize it, because it could not find any child more beautiful than its’ own. The owl then returned to the partridge and said, “Take your bread as I can find no child more beautiful than my own.” The moral is that no child is more beautiful than a mother’s own child.
The Hungry Monk: The night before the Lent fast had begun a monk in charge of a monastery gave precise and very strict orders to his monks that no one should light a fire for forty days. However, a young monk was not able to keep fasting, and 20 days into the fast grew very hungry. The head monk sent the young monk to get eggs from the monastery chicken. While the young monk collected the eggs he placed one egg in his pocket. The young monk eagerly ran back to his compartment, and started to think of a way to cook the egg in a manner that no smoke would be made, seen, or smelled, and result in him being found out. The young monk saw a candle and quickly placed the egg on the handle of a large church key using it to hold the egg in place while it cooked. The monk in charge saw that the door was closed and realized something was wrong as the monks tended to leave their doors open. He walked to the door and peered in, seeing what was happening the head monk immediately opened the door and yelled “What are you doing?” The young monk quickly replied “It is not me, but rather this is the devil’s trick.” The Devil then appeared and said “No I did not do this … as I could never have thought of it.”
The Tree: A long time ago near Mistra there was a mysterious and gigantic tree that looked over the plain of Sparta. This was not an ordinary tree; it was the largest tree in the whole world. Sadly it no longer exists in our day as some careless fool burnt it by accident in days long past. During the Ottoman time period there was a Governor who wanted a large dinner in his honor. The Governor ordered that his dinner was to take place in the location that overlooked the plain. When the food was ready and the festivities had begun, he sat down to eat. The Governor brought with him a young Christian Sheppard boy who was to be his servant. The young servant looked from this position, and could see that the beautiful plain of Sparta was surrounded by mountains and interlinking rivers, and he sighed. The Governor saw the boy sigh and asked him “What is it that makes you sigh?” “What is there not to sigh about?” the Sheppard boy replied “These areas were ours once, and you have taken them from us by force. I have hope in God that what is said will come true, that after many years and ages these areas will be ours once more.” The Governor became extremely upset and said, “Do you see this spit that was used to cook the food I ate?” The Governor then shoved the spit into the ground and told the boy “The same chance this spit has to become a tree and grow branches your people have to become free.. and liberate this land from us.” The next day a miracle happened, a miracle that indicated that there would be a day when the Sheppard’s people would be free. Out of the wood that the Governor stuck into the ground sprouted an amazing tree. The miraculous growth of the tree went against the words of the Governor, and the people now new that this tree prophesized a day when they would be free. This folktale was told to give faith to the Greek people during the era of the cruel 400 years of Turkish rule.
From Sweet Treats to Simple Something to Eat; Greek Desserts, Meals, and Food Background
Greek Food: Traditional Greek foods is known to extensively use olive oil, vegetables and herbs, grains and bread, wine, fish, and various meats which includes poultry, rabbit and pork. Also some other important Mediterranean meal adds are olives, cheese, eggplant (aubergine), courgette, and yogurt. Greek desserts are often distinguished by the dominant use of nuts and honey. Greeks will use specific spices and herbs, and make specific dishes depending on the season and/or time of year. The first cookbook ever was written by Archestratos in 320 B.C. This means that Greece has a culinary history of up to 4000 years. Below you can find 3 simple recipes and 3 simple desserts for you and your kids to enjoy!
Riganatha: Grilled Bread with Tomatoes, Feta Cheese, and Oregano
Ingredients: 3/4-inch slices of country style bread, chopped tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese, extra virgin olive oil, dried Greek oregano (rigani)
Directions: -Grill the bread over coals, in the oven, or on a countertop grill
until the ridges are clearly defined and the bread is crusty.
-Brush well with olive oil while hot. Top with enough chopped
tomatoes to cover, and add crumbled feta cheese to taste.
-Sprinkle with oregano, and serve.
Lathenia tis Alikis: Aliki’s Pizza
Ingredients: 3 x 6-7″ diameter pieces of pita bread or
For the pizza dough:4 cups of self-rising flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 cup of butter, softened
1 1/4 cups of milk, olive oil for brushing
For the toppings:1 bell pepper, cut in thin rings, 4 tomatoes, cut in thin slices, 1 pound of ham, cut in thin slices, 1/4 pound of thinly sliced smoked bacon, grated cheese
Directions: -Preheat oven to 390°F (200°C).
-Combine all dough ingredients.
-Knead for 20 minutes and set aside until the oven has preheated and
toppings are ready. The dough will start to rise.
-Roll out to a thickness of 1/4 inch, and brush lightly with olive oil.
-Add toppings, brush crust lightly with olive oil
Arakas me Anitho: Dilled Peas with Peppers
Ingredients: 1 pound of frozen peas, 1 small bunch fresh dill (1/8 pound, 60g), tender stems and leaves, finely chopped (or 3 tablespoons of dried dill weed), 4 spring onions, diced, 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced, 1 fresh pimiento pepper, seeded and diced (or red bell pepper)
1/3 cup of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 3/4 cup of water
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a large pan, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes.
Pagoto yia Paithia: Ice Cream for Kids (No-Cook)
Ingredients: 16 ounces of non-dairy whipped cream (1 large or 2 regular container)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 6 egg whites, 2 cans (14 ounces each) of sweetened condensed milk
Directions: -In a large bowl (or divide everything into two or three parts for more kids),
whisk the egg whites until foamy.
-Whisk in, in order, the whipped cream, milk, and vanilla. Whisk until it
becomes a frothy mixture. (Older children can use a hand mixer.)
Yiaourti me Meli: Yogurt with Honey
Ingredients: 1/2 – 3/4 cup of strained Greek yogurt per serving, 1-2 teaspoons of Greek thyme honey per serving, crushed walnuts and/or almonds
Directions: In individual serving bowls, pour honey over the yogurt and sprinkle with walnuts and/or almonds if desired.
Tahinomelo: Sesame (Tahini) Honey Spread
Ingredients: 1/4 cup of honey, 1/4 cup of light tahini
Directions: -Begin with a measuring cup and pour in 1/4 cup of the honey.
-Spoon in the tahini on top to the 1/2 cup mark and then stir to combine well.
Understanding the Greek Alphabet, Greek Fun Facts
Since about 750 B.C., or for the last 2750 years, the Greek Alphabet has been in use. The Greek alphabet was developed from the Canaanite/Phoenician alphabet and the order and names of the letters are believed to have derived from Phoenician. The original Canaanite meaning of the letter names was dropped when the alphabet was adapted for Greek. For example, alpha comes for the Canaanite aleph (ox) and beta from beta (house), not actual letters. It was the first alphabet system to include vowels, and around 500 BC the direction of writing changed to horizontal lines running from left to right instead of the original right to left direction.
Above is the Alphabet with the symbol, pronunciation of the symbol, and the official names of the symbol.
Did You Know?
- With an area of 50,949 square miles (131,958 square kilometers), Greece is roughly the size of Alabama. The population of Greece is more than 10 million people; the population of Alabama is around 4.5 million.
- No one in Greece can choose to not vote. Voting is required by law for every citizen who is 18 or older
- Greece doesn’t have any navigable rivers because of the mountainous terrain. Almost 80% of Greece is mountainous
- An old Greek legend says that when God created the world, he sifted all the soil onto the earth through a strainer. After every country had good soil, he tossed the stones left in the strainer over his shoulder and created Greece
- Greece enjoys more than 250 days of sunshine or 3,000 sunny hours a year.
- The life expectancy for ancient Greek women was 36, and the average for males was 45. Of the children born, only half survived infancy. Currently the life expectancy for Greek females is 82 years and for men, 77 years. Greece is ranked #26 in the world for life expectancy rates. The United States is ranked #49
- Football, or what we call soccer, is the national sport of Greece
- Feta, which is made from goat’s milk, is the Greece’s national cheese
- The saying “taking the bull by its horns” comes from the Greek myth of Hercules saving Crete from a raging bull by seizing its horns.
- The first Olympic Games took place in 776 B.C. The first Olympic champion was a Greek cook named Coroebus who won the sprint race.
4 Years of Anticipation, We Love the Olympics!!! History Behind the Olympics
Every two and four years the world waits in anticipation to watch the greatest athletes of every sport, from every country compete against each other to win the prestigious gold medal for them and their country’s recognition. The Summer Olympics occurs every 4 years, while the Winter Olympics occurs every 2 years, alternating between each other. Today, The Olympics is a worldwide celebration of fitness and health, but at the beginning, it was a Greek celebration of the Greek ideals of fitness and discipline, and also a way to honor Zeus, the king of the gods.
Physical fitness, health, and mental strength have always been very important in the culture of the Greeks. The first Olympic Games were held in 776 B.C., and actually, it was said to have been just a simple footrace. It wasn’t until 708 B.C., which other games such as such as the pentathlon, which included the javelin throw, wrestling, running, discus throw and jumping were added.
During the 19th century, athletic champion Baron Pierre de Coubertin stood behind the idea to bring the spirit of the Greek Olympics to the rest of the world. The first modern Olympic Games were in Athens, Greece, in 1896 and fourteen countries sent their best athletes to Athens, Greece. The first recorded winner of the modern Olympics was U.S. citizen James Connolly for the triple jump. Greek track star Spyridon Louis won the marathon in front of 100,000 viewers. After the 1896 games, several countries decided that the games should be every four years in a different country each time. So today, the world celebrates athletic greatness, physical helath, and mental strength!!!!
Host Your Own Olympics for You and Your Kids!!!!!!
Host an opening ceremony! There should be arts and crafts so that the kids can form teams and create mascots/symbols for their selves and their teams. Provide music and streamers for a parade they can march to, as you announce each team. You can even have the kids create a national anthem for their team!
- Discuss throwing (paper plates)
- Hula Hoop
- Obstacle course
- Tricycle race
- Paper plane throwing
- Three legged race
- Tug of war
- Potato sack race
- Discus using Frisbees
- Long jump and high jump
- Jump rope competition
- Cross country (mile run)
- Relay races
Medal Ceremony/Closing Ceremony
Now comes the ending of the Olympic Games, which the kids will really look forward to. Make sure there are leveled boxes or standing areas for the kids to stand upon in the order of which they will receive their awards, based on the level of medals they receive as well. Plan to give every child some type of medal even if they did not win. Allow the kids to sing and march again. Provide pizza and cake at the end.
Historical Greek Figures
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great was born in 356 B.C. in Pella, Macedonia. He was born to parent’s Philip of Macedon, who was a superior Army General and organizer and his mother was Olympias, princess of Epirus. When Alexander the Great turned 20, he gathered forces in Greek Cities in Corinth that recognized Alexander as their Leader. Alexander’s Army mainly had Macedonian soldiers and also a few Greeks. Alexander went on to invade the Persian Empire, whilst he was at war in Thrace, some Greek cities rebelled, which ultimately led Alexander back South. Alexander kept the battle going, and was determined to rule the world. Alexander would go after conquering north, through Syria and Mesopotamia and he defeated Darius at Gaugamela in 331 BC. After the death of Alexander the Great, his Empire soon disintegrated, he conquered much of what was then the civilized world.
Kyniska of Sparta
Kyniska is credited as being the first woman Olympic medal winner (chariot race). Actually, she ventured into an all-male sport and didn’t win the same as everyone else won the race is prior competitions. Kyniska won the Olympiads wreath not for being on the chariot as a rider, but by just owning the horses that won the race. It was a rule at that time, that, in equestrian; it would be the horse owner of the winning horse who would be honored and not the rider.
I’m sure you’ve heard of Plato at least once in your school, majorly in philosophy classes. Plato was taught by the great Socrates, and no doubt showed to be no less brilliant. Plato founded the world’s very first university! He wrote down his teachings and people all over the world, even today, study the Greek philosophers in every educational facility.
Another well- known name in school, Aristotle is credited towards discovering many things in science and biology. He published books about physics, poetry, zoology, biology, politics, governments, and more. Aristotle’s father was the personal physician of the King of Macedonia. When Aristotle turned 17, he went to Athens to study with Plato, coincidence?
Hippocrates is credited as being the most famous physician of the ancient times, as Hippocrates released medicine from any and all types of religious superstition in an attempt to establish it as a science based on observation and case recording. Hippocrates is often described as the model of the ancient physician and the “founder of western medicine”, even though in modern terms it can be said that he used both clinical and homeopathetic methods.
Greek Customs and Etiquette
Greeks are much known for their hospitality. They are warm, kind, and welcoming people. It’s not uncommon to be a visitor and be invited to some kind of family outing, or to a home for tea and coffee. To say hello, you may be offered food of various types, and if they offer dinner then the host pays the tab as a token of hospitality. They make eye contact, give you a firm hand shake, and will offer a bright smile. It is usually welcomed to have a gift for the child, but the host generally appreciates it if you accept their kind gestures rather than offering money. Respecting one’s elder is also a huge deal in Greece. If one see’s an elderly person crossing the street, one will help. If one is seated and an elder needs to have a seat, the younger individual will give that seat to the elder. Try not to take pictures of things, ANYTHING in have to do with armed forces (military) and do not take souvenirs from historical sites. That is removing history from their home, and considered unkind to do.