• by XpatAthens
  • Monday, 10 July 2017
How To Drink Like A Greek
For Greeks, any form of alcohol is meant to be enjoyed with friends and family and to not be overdone. As Greece Is says, ‘an enviable hallmark of Mediterranean culture is the civilized role of alcohol.’

People drink in joy in Greece. They drink, not to escape but, as they chime their glasses together, to engage more fully in the moment with one another. Even the occasional excess is usually a product of happy exuberance; drunken fighting and regrettable behavior are virtually non-existent.

(Consider also that as famously rich as the Greek language is, there is no specific word for hangover.)

Drinking Etiquette
  • Whatever the drink, you never just start drinking. After everyone’s glass has been filled, there will be a general “ya-mas!” (“our health!”)to start things off. Thereafter, sip from your glass as you like.

  • When glasses are refilled, it’s not uncommon to toast with the fresh drink. This happens a lot – glasses are generally small (perhaps this very purpose). You can fill your own glass, but fill the glasses of your neighbors first. (Who fills whose glass? Just as you wish, but it much follows the pattern of society in general – men often fill women’s glasses, and you fill the glass of your great aunt.)

  • Whenever anyone new joins the party, all will toast afresh when their glass is filled for the first time.

  • Nicest of all, from time to time someone will simply be seized with the impulse to toast. This is particularly the case at a large table – spontaneous toasts periodically reunite the group. People will sometimes even rise from their chairs to chime glasses with friends at a distance.

  • Is there a happy event coming up? Look forward to even more toasting (“kala stefana!” = “happy wreaths!”= happy wedding).

  • Do join in each toast – if all these sips are going to your head, just barely wet your lips, and drink lots of water in between.
You may find that Greek drinking practices, for all their complexity, are adopted with such ease that the art of drinking with style and grace is one of the best souvenirs you’ll bring home.

To read this article in full, please visit: Greece Is