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Culture & Identity of Greece

Introduction

Most Greeks enjoy life and their daily way of life is centered on family, friends, good food, perhaps a drink of two, and relaxation. However, there is also a growing pressure to work hard, but jobs are hard to come by in Greece as the country sadly has an unemployment rate of nearly 25%. Having jobs is only important to the Greeks in so much that they can support their families and enjoy life; few Greeks have the desire to get financially wealthy as they often define wealth in very different terms.

Since life begins and ends with family, so too should any description of the way of life in Greece. Evenings, weekends (Saturday-Sunday), and vacations are when Greek culture and life comes alive. These are times to socialize with family and friends, whether that is in the home or out on the town. Family is the center of the country's support system and the unemployed seem to rely on family, while the situation could change and shift in the opposite direction for other family members and the support will be returned.

While family life and socialization is the most important aspect of life in Greece, having the jobs and making the money to enjoy this life can be difficult to come by. When they do find these jobs, most positions seem to be in the services sector and many people work regular hours, which of a large number of industries means working from about 8:00 am to early afternoon. However, Greece has a significant number of agricultural employees, whose way of life is dependent on the sun and weather.

Like working hours, most Greek schools have regular schedules as most children attend school from about 8:00 am to about 2:00 pm. Summer vacation lasts from about mid-June to mid-September, at which time many families like to get away for at least a couple weeks.

Although education is important to the Greeks, as is making the money to enjoy life, the Greeks live for their happiness and well-being above all else, so many aspects of other cultures are deemed less than important in Greece. Working and earning additional money always come second to what that that money is actually earned for: enjoyment of life and a relaxed way of life. They Greeks work to get money which can be used to vacation on the islands, eat out, and visit with family and friends over wine. Everything in Greece is centered around family and this lifestyle.

Identity

The Greeks see themselves as being Greek and this is identified in a very specific, yet historic way. To be Greek one has to be a native Greek speaker and live a Greek lifestyle, no matter where he or she lives or what his or her ethnicity is. Due to Greece's long history as both a powerful nation ruling over minorities as well as being ruled over by foreigners, citizenship, government, and even ethnicity to a degree are features that mean little to the people to be included in this identity. The most important aspects to being Greek, both now and in the past, are to live and speak as the Greeks do, whether that's in Greece or abroad.

However, as few immigrants natively speak Greek, most of these people hold on to the identity from their homeland, which is generally defined by ethnicity. Second and third generation immigrants are easily included in the Greek identity so long as they are fluent and live the local lifestyle.

This page was last updated: November, 2013