Maybe you travel to Greece every summer, maybe you haven’t been in years. Maybe you live in Greece but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s not summer. Sure, all seasons have their beauty. But on the East Coast of the U.S., I’m more or less done trying to pretend I enjoy feeling *cozy* or Hygge or whatever else it takes to convince myself this isn’t all a dream until summer arrives again.
Dramatic? Sorry, I’m Greek.
There’s nothing quite like the energy and vitality we feel as a result of Greek summer. Watching a horizon fade as your ferry boat leaves its dock, the signature blue and white that spews from its stern, and wind-whipped hair. If you only squeeze in one week of vacation, which I can speak to, you feel more renewed from that one week in Greece than if you spent a month on vacation just about anywhere else in the world.
So, fight off winter depression with these three tips and tools…
Put on some paradosiaka and dance it off.
Even if you hate Greek dancing, there’s no denying the transportive power of traditional Greek music, especially of the island variety. While the bouzouki may be used all over Athens to lure tourists into tavernas, it feels different when you’re a displaced Greek. In face, we Greeks outside of Greece become, in a way, tourists of their own culture.
Try this island mix from youtube. Invite some friends over, drink some raki and then attempt to teach them Ikariotiko (ever noticed how easy ikariotiko is to dance, but near impossible to teach?).
ok, the Lagada panigyri might be an over the top example, but it’s February and the sun just came out for the first time in days, so give me a break.
If you’re actually doing Lent, you might want to get on that today. I, for one, like the pre-Lenten festivities but also refuse to give up steak.
Seriously though, there’s little some nisiotika and rakomelo cannot fix…
For a more somber, transportive time, listen to Vasilis Kostas ft Layth Sidiq – Kalesma play at the esteemed Berklee college of music.
WAIT you don’t have provisions??? Now is a good time to stock up on some Greek summer essentials.
Greeks in Greece, we know you don’t have this problem. For those of us abroad, it’s a different story, albeit one that is easily fixed.
If you don’t live in a town with a Greek grocery store or provider, the internet provides. Try my Cretan Goods, for example.
Don’t plan your day.
Living in a bustling American city for most of my adult life, I am generally surrounded by people whose weekends are planned to a T. Actually, let’s be real, everyone I know in the US usually has weekend “plans.” And if they don’t have plans, a big point is made of talking about not having plans, which seems to put pressure on the relaxation and somehow, in some twisted way, turn it into plans.
So: plan to have no plans. If you were on a Greek island, your plans would likely not extend past the beach, a nap, dinner, and maybe drinks out later.
You can still “do things,” this isn’t a mandated sit at home and watch netflix for 8 hours. No. That’s the American “having no plans and staring into the abyss.” Rather… leave your day open. If you decide, halfway through the day, to do yoga, do it. If you want to go to dinner at 9 PM, do it. Just try not having plans and witness the effect on your psyche of flowing into whatever activities you desire. It’s arguably the most Greek summer thing you can do. While it may be easier to “have no plans” on a picturesque island or mountain, make a point to find and notice the beauty where you are.
Actually, make these plans: get a ticket for the Aegean Secrets dinner at the James Beard House in NYC for a meal inspired by fresh summer dining
Are you in New York, or looking for a reason to visit the big milo? Get your ticket now for a special dinner on March 13. Hosted by six Greek women chefs, including Master Chef Argiro Barbarigou and Christina Xenos who we’ve featured on Delphi Reclaimed, this is going to be a special night. The evening celebrates the cuisine of the southern Aegean islands, a region that’s being called the “Gastronomical Capital of Europe” for 2019. Needless to say, I’ll be there.
So you’ve listened to Greek music, sipped some rakomelo, gone with the flow with your day, and dined on delicious Greek food. Maybe you even got up and danced or attempted to teach your friend/SO/unwilling stranger how to do a Greek dance or two.
Hopefully, you’re feeling calmer, more relaxed and a bit transported out of your daily existence.
Finally, I leave you with some notes from the surrealist poem Amorgos by Nikos Gatsos, an epic barely known outside Greece. Gatsos himself wrote many popular Greek songs you’re likely familiar with…
…the snows will melt on the mountains, the wind will sing like a bird, the swallows will come to life, the osiers will quiver, and men with cold eyes and pale faces, hearing the bells in the cracked belfries ringing by themselves, will find holiday caps to wear and gay-colored ribbons to tie on their shoes. For then no one will ever joke again, the blood of brooks will overflow…and the timid girls will come slowly and quietly to cast their last garments into the flames and to dance about them nakedly…