Customs & Traditions

While birth, marriage, and death form the basis for three essential sacramental services of the Greek Orthodox Church, the celebration and observation of these important events are also characterized by special Greek American customs and social traditions. These include the bestowal of certain gifts upon the birth of a child; weddings complete with bouzouki music, Greek pastries, and coiling lines of dancers; and memorial services and funerary gatherings with special foods such as kollyva and paximathia. While immigrant families originally transported many cultural and social traditions from different areas of Greece, over time these practices have become altered in order to meet the special needs of Greeks in America. This transformation has resulted in an interesting Greek American mixture of traditions, customs, and rituals stemming from Greek culture, American culture, and the Greek Orthodox Church. (A Guide to Greek Traditions and Customs in America, Marilyn Rouvelas, Bethesda, Maryland, Nea Attiki Press, 1993)

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