The Greek way of life is based around the family, church and patriotism. They are proudly patriotic, this is due to the trials and tribulations of successive rulers, invasions and wars, though this sometimes leads to suspicion of other nationalities, considering their history it is not surprising that some of the people feel this way, but patriotism, should not be confused with racial discrimination.
The majorities of Greeks are generous and helpful, and welcome you into their country and their homes. The Greek Orthodox Church plays an important role in the life of the Greek society, when the country was under foreign rule; the church gave them a sense of belonging and self-determination. Greek family life centres on the women of the house, contrary to what the men think, they like to sit in the cafes, play backgammon and discuss the ways of the world.
Unlike many countries in Europe , the sons of the family will stay at home until they get married, with the exception of going away to study or military service, where the women of the house treat them like princes, catering to their every need. The Greek women are proud of their ability to look after the family and their cooking skills, the males of the family rarely involve themselves in the day-to-day running of the house, and their cooking skills are mainly confined to the barbecue.
The Greeks are well known for their easy approach to timekeeping, (do tomorrow, what you can do today), when the new underground rail system was opened in Athens, the joke at the time, was at so many people turned up at work on time because the did not realise how fast the trains ran. Overall, the Greeks enjoy life, this can be seen through their festivals and the closeness of the family. A good time to see this, is the evening walk, (the volta) when families old and young, stroll around the squares of the towns and villages, the older generation catching up on the latest gossip, whilst the young males try to catch the eye of a pretty girl and vice versa.
The main religion of the country is the Greek Orthodox Church, roughly, 98% of the population belongs to the Orthodox faith. The other 2% are Catholics, Muslims and Jews. The Greek Orthodox Church has close links to the Russian Orthodox Church, in the 8 th century the Orthodox religion had a number of differences with the Roman Catholic faith. Among one of the differences, was that of celibacy, catholic priests have to remain celibate, whilst Orthodox priests can be married, so long as this happens before he is ordained.
These differences of opinions led to the diversion of the two faiths in 1054. The visit to Greece in 2001, by Pope John Paul II, was the first papal visit to the country for over 1,300 years. The Catholic community in Greece is of Italian extraction, and they mainly live on Syros , in the Cyclades Islands .
The Muslims, mainly of Turkish extraction reside in the region of Thrace in northern Greece , and on some of the islands of the Dodecanese group. The once prolific community of Jews, that lived in the Thessaloniki region, where decimated by the Germans when they where transported to concentration camps during WWII, about 5000 Jews live in Greece today.
Other minorities live in Epiros in northern Greece , and consist of Vlachs and Sarakatansi, these are nomadic communities and for most of the summer live in the high mountains tending to their sheep, in the winter they return to their villages in the valleys.