Some of Crete's Customs and Culture - You Should get to Know
Living in Crete as an Ex-pat from Ireland or Britain
Learn Some Greek Language!
The first difference in culture is the way Greek language is spoken in Crete. The spoken Cretan Greek is not necessarily the same as the Attika usage of the modern Greek. Of course there are many dialects on Crete but they are more and more frowned upon by the younger generation as a reflection of the old lifestyle as the country becomes more "Europeanised" and "urbanised" through the influence of the mass media. Noticeably, the national "k" sound is more a "shh" in Cretan pronunciation. It is the one stand out difference. For example: oxi = No sounds like "osshi" instead of "o'hee" in standard Greek to a foreigner's ears when listening and learning the language.
Here are some common usage words to get you started:
English Transliterated Sound
|Kalimera||- Good Morning|
|Kalispera||- Good Evening|
|Kalinikta||- Good Night|
|Efahristo||- Thank You|
|Efahristo Poli||- Thank You Very Much|
|Se Parakalo||- If you please, Don't Mention it, Can I help you? (Depending on Context)|
|Oshi or O'hee||- No|
Free Greek Lessons
A number of municipalities offer Greek lessons to foreigners in winter through their community funded service called Κ.Α.Ρ.Ε. Check with your local neighbours or the Mayor's office when in Crete. Up-to-date information on Greek lessons.
Taboo Hand Gesture
The one hand gesture you should be aware of, because of it being meaningless in the UK but it's strong meaning in Greece, is the "wave" with an open hand with fingers spread wide apart in a fan shape. This gesture to a Greek is infinitely worse that using the "F" word or other verbal abuse. So think twice before you "wave" to a motorist who has just let you pass :-) Spreading your fingers at someone with the palm facing out is much more serious in Greece than giving someone the V for Victory sign.
How to Behave at a Greek Wedding (when it is not your own)
- Lengthy responses at the Brits in Crete Forum - Find out what to do if you are invited to a Cretan one!
How to Respond to Generous Neighbours Who, Sitting at Another Table, Unexpectedly Buy You a Drink in a Kafeneio
After the drink is set in front of you by the waiter, it is best to wait to catch the attention of your generous neighbour, then raise your glass to them , and say "Yamas, efharisto poli". It is important to wait until another occasion to reciprocate. That shows politeness. Or, reciprocate in another way which is next time you go to Lidl or any supermarket, buy some continental biscuits or English Chocolates. Don't go mad and buy anything too expensive, buy just a little something so that on the next occasion you happen to pass your neighbour's house drop in and hand them the little gift. Perhaps even better, if they have little ones, buy them some sweeties. English style Smarties go down well. Or, if an important festival is just around the corner, then wait for that day. Hand over the gift and say "kronia pola" This may be the beginning of your "barter trade" relationship with your neighbours. You have what they appreciate, and they have what you will appreciate -- often the fresh produce just harvested from their market garden to share with you. That is the great 'care and share' Greek attitude for the most part, long since gone in the UK or Ireland.
A postscript: Some villagers seem to have a negative thing about fizzy pop. Soft drinks are not good for the childrens' health, some say and openly frown upon it.
Note: Do be aware that the drinking of Raki (or Rachi) in Crete is almost an island-wide pastime. If you are offered Raki anywhere, always drink it, at least take a sip, even if you don't like it much, as a refusal is considered bad manners (the excuse that you are driving may work sometimes, if you're lucky).
To Help Jog your Memory for some of the Movies and TV programmes famously Linked to Crete?
Without a long answer here, they include the movie: Zorba the Greek with Anthony Quinn; the BBC TV series, 1972-73 vintage - The Lotus Eaters, - about the life of British Ex-pats in Crete, and Michael J Bird's classic, Who Pays the Ferryman? A visit to our forum covers the subject.
Television Viewing in Crete
The good news is there is no Greek TV License, the bad news is you pay towards the cost of ERT, NET and EPT-3) the Greek national television services, rather like the BBC, through your Crete Electricity Bill even if you do not have a TV!!! There is some English language programming, usually movies and sitcoms across the choice of local Crete and National TV channels and networks. But to enjoy any sort of real entertainment value from your TV in Crete, you probably need to consider to do any of the following:
- 1. Learn Greek very quickly,
- 2. Get UK Sky TV on Eurobird 1 and Astra satellites at 28 degrees East, although strictly speaking this is not allowed -- but if you have a UK address already or can get one, then go for it.
- 3. Buy a DVD Player and bring lots of DVD's with you from the UK or
- 4. Get a Satellite TV Installation (mainly Hotbird at 13 degrees East) which brings BBC Prime/BBC Entertainment (subscription) and free-to-air channels: BBC World, Reality TV, various Childrens and Music Channels and a fair share of other Sports Channels - all for around €250 for one off payment/installation/equipment. There are Satellite Bouquets on Arabsat/Badr at 26 degrees East, Astra at 19 degrees East and others. With some twiddling and a few Euros more you can invest in a decent sized rotating satellite dish to receive more satellites.
|SKY||Hotbird||BBC Prime||Reality TV|
Other Useful Reference Pages on Ex-pat Living in Crete:
Schools for Foreign Children
Being part of the EU, Greece through state organisations has sponsored Schools for Foreign Children, including the EU, European School Heraklion. A true experience of bringing the kids over in "Making the Leap with Kids".
Public Utilities - Electricity and water. Explanation of billing.
Crete - you know the weather is good that is why you come to Southern Greece but Crete also has a winter climate and its house heating implications.
Telephone, Internet and Postal Services - what you need to know.
Essential reading, including the private Cretan Medicare Centres.
More important direct feedback from those experiencing settling in Greece or who have been there awhile. In the chatter, they mention the differences in supermarket prices and where to obtain favourite goodies, edibles and household products from "back home". All in all, it is a good barometer of the cost of living when on a fixed monthly income when resident in Greece.
Save Water When Staying on A Greek Island. Water is a scarce resource that dwindles each year. Our helpful page on conservation of water gives a number of invaluable tips, ones that are common sense reality. These tips show how easy it is to make the water that you use go further without investment or extra effort. The tips go a long way to help keep your garden and plants well watered thus ensuring they are green and healthy in a Mediterranean setting.
Stores and Supermarkets Grocery Shopping
From small village stores, to large supermarket chains, like Carrefour and Lidl, Crete has it all. A Quick guide to what is available.
Your short cut to the Ministries and who is responsible for what.