It’s All Greek to Me…
Every week, The Greek Vibe features a Greek word. Visit this page to add one more word to your vocabulary. By the time your Greece adventure begins, you’ll be ready to communicate in Greek!
Καλοκαίρι or “kalokeri” means “summer” and is a Medieval compound word derived from the ancient Greek words “kalo” which means “good” and “kairos” which means “season” or “time” and which came to mean summertime… when the living is easy. The ancient Greek word for summer is the word “theros” that’s why we say “therino cinema” referring to open-air summer cinemas. Kalo Kalokairi to all!
Αρμονία or “armonia” means “harmony” and is derived from the verb “aro” which is the root for the Greek word “areti” or “virtue”. “Armonia” therefore is a virtue in that it brings all things together to create a healthy whole: a oneness. This “whole” or “unity” means to be in tune and in union with the source – the universal laws . In Greek mythology, Harmonia was a deity – the daughter of two gods: Ares (of war) and Aphrodite (of love).
Καλημέρα – or “Kalimera” literally means “good day” – καλή = good and μέρα = day. We use it mainly in the mornings to wish the others good morning.
Ευχαριστώ – or “Efharisto” means “thank you” – ευ = good and χάρις = blessing. I suggest using it to others and to yourselves. It creates a better world. In the Christian sense, Efcharist, was used by Jesus in the Last Supper as he offered bread to his disciples expressing thanks and gratitude for that day.
Χρόνια Πολλά – or “Hronia Polla” which literally means “Many Years (of Health to You)”. The wish is used on all holidays, birthdays, and namedays. However, according to Greek Orthodox tradition, for the wish of “Hronia Polla” to mean something more it must be accompanied by a specific reason, which this week is “Καλά Χριστούγεννα” (Kala Christougenna) – meaning Merry Christmas!
Καλή Χρονιά – or “Kali Hronia” – literally means “Good Year”. Greeks say “Kali Xronia” at the start of the new year extending wishes of a yeαr full of health, love and prosperity. It is believed that wishes for the new year are meant to inspire and to motivate; a good word for the celebration of a new chance to be better versions of ourselves, as well as positive energy from one to the other. This said, ‘Kali Hronia’ to all of you filled with Love, Kindness, and Compassion.
Γλυκό του κουταλιού – or “glyko to koutaliou” literally means “spoon sweet”, which was a very popular treats (kerasma) in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. This was mainly because they could keep for months without needing to be refrigerated. As of late, the traditional Greek spoon sweet has made a strong comeback as it is a healthier choice for those midnight cravings.
Φιλοξενία – “Filoxenia” means “hospitality” in Greek – literally broken down to mean “friend” (filos) of the “foreigner” (xenos). Extending hospitality to the traveler or stranger has been among the top virtues in Greek culture ever since antiquity. There are dozens of myths dedicated to the art of hospitality telling the tales of humble wanderers seeking shelter and food who were actually gods in disguise.
Καλό μήνα or “Kalo Mina” means “Good Month” in Greek. It is actually a wish and a blessing which we share with loved ones and friends at the start of each month.
Αγάπη or “agape” vs “Έρωτας” or “erotas” – Two words very much tied with the mood of the week. Agape is the unconditional love for someone or for the divine. Erotas or “eros” is a form of intimate love accompanied by all that entails: passion, sex, pleasure and it is from this that have the word “erotic”. Happy Valentine’s Day to all. In Greece, Agios Yakinthos is the saint that protects the enamored or those “in love” celebrated on July 3.
Ευχαριστώ or “efcharisto” means thank you and is used to express gratitude. The word is derived from “eu” + “charis” which literally mean “in the favor of grace”. It is from this word that we have “Eucharist” which in the Catholic tradition refers to Holy Communion – an action of thanksgiving to God. Additionally, we accent “echaristo” at the end, but if you place the accent on the -a- Efchάristo – then the word means pleasant.
Διακοπές or “Diakopes” means “vacation” in Greek. It is actually the plural of the verb “diakopto” which means “stopping something” or “interrupting”. And that’s exactly what “diakopes” is all about: interrupting whatever you do all year round, and doing something different.
Θάλασσα or “Thalassa” means “sea” and is an ancient Greek word used over thousands of years with the very same meaning. A phrase we Greeks love and I know you will too? “Pame thalassa!”, or “Let’s hit the beach”.
Υγεία or “hygieia” means “health of both body and mind” or the “absence of illness”. It is from this word that we have the word “hygiene”. In ancient Greek mythology, Hygieia was the goddess of good health. Her father was god of medicine, Asclepius.
Άνοιξη or “Anixi” from the ancient Greek word “anixis” which means “to open”. In the Middle Ages, the word evolved to mean “spring” replacing “ear” and symbolizing the “opening” or improved weather and the “opening” of the flowers. Let’s add to that: the opening of our hearts. Kalo Mina! Kali Anixi!
Ανάσταση or “Anastasi” comes from the ancient Greek word which means “to rise”, “to emerge” or “to shift”. The word today means “resurrection” and denotes an inner shift toward a higher “arisen” (awakened) state. Greek Easter culminates with the resurrection of Christ and that is why we wish each other “Kali Anastasi” so that we may all follow His example and reach our highest spiritual state.
Κέφι or “Kefi” describes a state of the mind, a situation in which you feel passionate about something, it can describe a good mood or even the sense of euphoria (another Greek word) as a result of doing something fun and fulfilling. In Zorba the Greek – a novel by Nikos Kazantzakis – the lead character Zorbas best embodies the notion of “kefi”. To put it simply, ‘succumbing to kefi’ is putting your heart and soul’s best interest first. It’s doing what makes you feel in sync, in balance, in the here and now.