Greeks Creating Gifts

The chair and the table June 13, 2017 19:50

Customers often ask me where the inspiration for my ideas evolve from. I tell them ideas come from everywhere perhaps, someone said something or I saw. This latest idea came from viewing many photographs of Greece that are often posted by Greeks on Facebook and people visiting Greece. A couple of objects caught my eye and I started to pay attention. I came to realize that Greeks don't have a lot of outdoor furniture, but wanted to make something that people would buy and display in their home that come and represent the experience of living in Greece. The wooden chair and metal table that often seen together and come to represent many things like, stories, relaxation, friends, beverages, and communication.

Two years ago, we were visiting Greece, and walking around the village. My wife stopped to speak to someone and I spotted a Greek chair. We borrowed it and brought it back to where we were staying. There I photographed it and took measurements. I was ready to start the project when I got home to American. It's been two years and it hasn't happened yet and afraid all those notes have been misplaced. But something lately has happened.  Astounding I must say. 

The TV Dish repair man wanted help and asked me to hold the ladder for him. The ladder was put in the next door yard. As he climbed I held the ladder. While he was on my roof I decided to look around. I don't spend much time in other people's yard but, when I did I HAD to look twice and maybe three times....there in a corner I saw a few Greek chairs. I couldn't believe it. I sat in them and felt just like the chairs that were in Greece. I thought of taking them and thought that wasn't right. So I left them alone and thought if I even needed them I knew where they. The next day I putting my garbage out in the alley, as I did,  I noticed the chairs too were in the alley and the neighbor was throwing them out. What luck!!! So I took them. All three.  And what about the table you may ask? While visiting Nouna that have visited hundreds of times already, she had a Greek table there on her balcony and I borrowed it. In my possession are the chairs and table waiting to be reproduced into a diorama. 


Easter Traditions of the Greek Orthodox Faith April 28, 2016 17:39

Preparations and customs for Easter in the Greek Orthodox faith are very important, as Easter is the most sacred holiday for Greeks.

Holy Week, which is between Palm Sunday and Easter, are when the preparations begin and end. Everyone observes many customs during this time.

Holy (or Great) Thursday is when preparations begin. The traditional Easter bread, tsoureki, is baked and eggs are dyed red to represent the blood of Christ. The first dyed red egg is sometimes placed along with icons to ward off evil. Also on Holy Thursday, it is during evening hours when the period of mourning begins in the churches. There is a symbolic representation of the crucifixion.

Holy (or Great) Friday is considered a day of mourning and a time where there is no work, even including cooking. If food is cooked however, it is traditional and simple, such as beans or thin soups such as tahinosoupa. It is during Holy Friday where the Service of Lamentation is observed, where a procession is lead to the cemetery and congregation members follow carrying candles.

Holy (or Great) Saturday includes the tradition of the Eternal Flame, brought by military jet and distributed to priests who then give it to the local churches. It is during Holy Saturday where the preparations begin for Easter Sunday’s feast. Dishes such as the traditional mayiritsa soup are made to be eaten after the midnight service to break the fast. Additionally, there are candles called “labatha” which are given to children from parent or Godparents. Right before midnight in the churches there is only light from the Eternal Flame on the altar. The flame is then passed from the priest, who calls out “Christos Anesti”, to members of the congregation until the church is filled with candlelight.

It is on Easter Sunday when the real feast begins. Lamb and goat are roasted on the spit or grills, though ovens are also popular. Greek wines, ouzo and other drinks are served generously. The celebrations last until late at night.

Iconography in the Greek Orthodox Church March 18, 2016 15:24

Iconostasis, or icon screen, is a prominent display of colorful and distinctive figures, which surround the walls of the Orthodox Greek Church. “Theology in color” is how icons have been described, and their purpose is to create a visual appreciation of the teachings of Gospels, writings of the Church and the hymnology of the Church to theologians, regardless of language.

There are many roles of the icon, which are described as follows:

- To portray and maintain the truths of Orthodox Christianity;

- To teach the lessons of the Orthodox Faith;

- To depict symbolism of the Liturgical Services;

- To serve as a guide of Christian living through the virtues of those portrayed; and

- To be a catalyst in worshipping God and venerate his saints.

Each icon was developed by the fourth century maintaining the importance of the preservation of theological truths. Contemporary iconographers continually use these prototypes.

The details of the body and human features are important in iconography in order to portray reality as transformed by Grace. For example, the body and features of saints is elongated, and skin tones are ochre rather than pink to emphasis an inner light, and halos surround the head to emphasize spirituality.

Today, iconography can be enjoyed in art exhibits across the country including such museums as the Art Institute of Chicago and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Icons are described as “Windows to Heaven” and honor the legacy and importance of the Greek Orthodox Faith. Read more about the importance of icons in ECCLESIA: Greek Orthodox Churches of the Chicago Metropolis by Panos Fiorentinos.

The Greek Orthodox Faith March 10, 2016 14:26

“Orthodox” is the most commonly used term in America to describe the Greek Church. This translates from the Greek word orthodoxos, which means “correct belief” or “correct glory.” Because Greek was the widely spoken language of the Roman Empire at the time of Christ, the Church has been called the “Greek Church.” “The one, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church,” however, is perhaps the most theologically correct name.

 In Orthodoxy, it is believed that God is one in substance but three in persons, meaning that the Holy Trinity (the three persons – Father, Son and the Holy Spirit) are not confused, and the one substance is not divided. Furthermore it is believed that Jesus Christ is perfect God and perfect man (Theanthropos), came down from heaven and was crucified and resurrected to save us.

 Orthodoxy contains the following orders of ordained clergy: Bishop, Priest, and Deacon. There are seven Sacraments (Mysteries) including Holy Baptism, Holy Chrismation (Holy Confirmation); Holy Confession; Holy Unction (a Sacrament to Healing); Holy Eucharist; Holy Matrimony; and Holy Orders. The Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion) is the primary Sacrament of the Orthodox worship service. In Orthodoxy, the attitude towards God usually is from the heart and relational rather than from an intellectual perspective.

 The main service of the Orthodox Church is the Divine Liturgy. This is highly valued as a remembrance of the Last Supper and is celebrated on feast days such as Christmas, Epiphany, Pascha (Easter) or on a day that a saint died and is remembered by the Church. Read more about Greek Orthodoxy in Ecclesia: Greek Orthodox Churches of the Chicago Metropolis by Panos Fiorentinos.

The "Kafeneio" February 19, 2016 12:29

“Kafeneio,” or the traditional coffee shop, is an important aspect of Greek culture. It is there where typically the older male generation usually congregate to participate in such activities as reading the newspaper, discuss current events and sports, or play cards and backgammon. It is also the place where you can sample Greek coffee made in a copper briki. You may also be able to try a taste of coffee in “hovoli,” or hot sand.

Coffee is served in a very thick cup which holds the liquid warm for a long time. This is known as a white demitasse cup. “Diplos”, or a double dose, is also served at the kafaneio. This also has a special cup which is thick, heavy, has a narrow top and wide bottom and can hold foam on a large surface.

The kafeneio is often located in the central square of villages and the islands. Ouzo, local brandy and beer are typically served, along with a small “meze” plate containing a few olives, some feta cheese, tomato and cucumber slices.

Greek cafes are often named after their owners’ first or last names. Kantyli is now offering to create and customize these coffee signs with special Greek engraved lettering. Celebrate the kafeneio at home with one of these personalized signs.

Kantyli's Brush with Celebrity February 05, 2016 16:46

Kantyli had a recent brush with celebrity with writer and star of the upcoming movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, Nia Vardalos. In addition to the movie, which will be released on March 25th, 2016, Vardalos wrote the book entitled Instant Mom, a memoir about adopting a preschooler with only fourteen hours’ notice. The book details all aspects of child rearing and adoption with humor and honesty.

Vardalos has been touring the country promoting her book in Greek churches and came across a special gift from Kantyli. A friend of Kantyli’s owner Panos Fiorentinos saw Vardalos speaking and gave her four of Yiayia’s Grandmother wooden spoons. Because at first the spoons were faced down, a confused Vardalos did not register what they were initially. But when the spoons were turned around Vardalos saw the engraved inscriptions written in Greek of popular phrases and she laughed out loud. One of the phrases is the traditional “I’m going to boil you” or ‘Tha se Vraso,’used by Greek grandmothers to signify a threat to behave. The rest include the short and sweet ‘Tha se fao,’ or “I’m going to eat you, ‘Tha fas ksilo,’ or “You are going to eat wood,” and lastly the non-threatening and benign ‘Kali Oreksi,’ meaning “Good appetite.” Later, a fifth spoon, the new ‘Katse kala,’ meaning “Sit still and be quiet” was added to the collection by owner Panos Fiorentinos along with a letter. Additionally, he sent three ODOS road signs where he personalized and wrote each sign to reveal the last names of Tom Hanks, Nia Vardalos and the Portokalis family.

Not only does Kantyli hope that Vardalos enjoys these customized gifts, but that these uniquely engraved gifts and/or signs will possibly appear in the background scenery of the movie. You, too can enjoy such gifts – a personalized, engraved sign with your name on it or the humorous wooden spoons containing popular Greek phrases.

Behind the Scenes: A Closer Look at Kantyli January 20, 2016 13:26

Panos Fiorentinos, Creator of Kantyli, got his love for engraving early in life. As a child, he enjoyed building and creating things. He began his first endeavor at the young age of nine using toothpicks and glue to begin constructing the house and town where he lived. With his intentions on becoming an architect, a drawing class in college sidetracked him where he saw his instructor working on an architectural model. Says Panos, “I never completed that project — until that visit to the instructor’s studio. I’d thought that it was long forgotten, but fate had other plans.”

 His talent led him into a career building architectural models alongside his instructor and later with architect Christ Kamages creating mostly Greek Orthodox churches. Eventually he went on to form his own company, PF Models, where he built models independently.

 In 2004, Panos completed a book entitled  ECCLESIA: Greek Orthodox Churches of the Chicago Metropolis. While marketing the book he came up with new and innovative ideas as well as the name Kantyli. “Looking inward to the subject matter, my wife Irene and I stumbled upon a most appropriate name: Kantyli– it’s the oil lamp used in the Greek Orthodox Church.”

 As Kantyli has grown every year, Panos has developed new products. He uses his background in creating models to hone his custom style of engraving using a variety of materials. They all honor Greek heritage and culture and help others to celebrate Greek traditions as well. Says Panos, “I get to design and create Greek gifts that are original. Every year Kantyli gets busier and noticed more. People tell us they ‘love’ our products. We can customize and personalize anything that’s on our site and that’s what makes us special.”

The Greek Drachma December 17, 2015 00:00 1 Comment

The drachma is one of the world’s earliest coins. The name drachma originated from the verb “grasp,” and also the word “handful” which comes from the ancient Linear B, the earliest attested form of Greek language. From the start, a drachma was a fistful, or “grasp” of six oboloi or obeloi (metal sticks meaning “spits”) and was used as currency as early as 1100 BC. In ancient times, many cities in Greece developed their own coin with recognizable symbolic images and phrases befitting for each coin.

 The drachma was used in ancient times by many Greek states during a period of ten centuries, while there are three modern currencies, of which the first was introduced in 1832 and finally replaced by the euro in 2001.

 As part of our collection at Kantyli, we make engraved replicas of this beautiful coin rich in history and Greek heritage, which can be used as wall art or tabletop décor. These exquisite pieces of art are engraved on circular cut Crescent mat board protected by Masonite backing and clear Plexiglas and make the perfect gift for anyone who appreciates and enjoys Hellenic art. View our drachma wall medallion collection and our drachma paperweight collection.

Christmas in Greece December 10, 2015 00:00


Christmas in Greece is a very festive, significant holiday celebrated with many different traditions. ‘Christougena’, meaning Christmas in Greek, begins on Christmas Eve, where Saint Vasilis, or Santa Clause, delivers small presents. Festivities begin around December 6th, or St. Nicholas Day, where children wander the streets and sing Christmas carols known as ‘kolanda’. They carry drums and triangles and sometimes boats decorated with nuts and painted gold, a very old Grecian custom. There are twelve days of Christmas, which begin on Christmas and last until Jan 6th, also known as the Feast of Epiphany.

Though Christmas trees are not a big tradition in Greece, instead many people keep a shallow wooden bowl with a sprig of basil wrapped on a wooden cross. This is used to sprinkle water throughout the house to keep bad spirits, or ‘Killantzaroi’ away.

Turkey is popular for lunch, while also favorable is a leg of lamb or pork roasting either in the oven or on an open spit for hours. This delicious meal is served with a side of ‘spanikopita’ (spinach cheese pie) and an abundance of veggies and rice. Also offered are loaves of ‘christopsomo’ (Christ bread), a round, sweet loaf decorated with the occupation of its family members. For example, if you are a fisherman there would be a fish, etc. And let’s not forget about desert! There is (among others) ‘melomakarouna’, which are semolina, cinnamon biscuits dripped in honey, and ‘kourapiedes’, or rosewater and butter cookies covered with powdered sugar.

Music blares on the street while friends and neighbors celebrate in their homes and gather to join in the fun holiday spirit. If you ever find yourself in Greece and want to wish someone in Greek a Merry Christmas, greet them with a ‘Kala Christouyenna!’. Celebrate this Christmas by giving a Kantyli gift.

The Greek Language October 27, 2015 20:55

The Greek language embodies a vital aspect of Greek culture. Modern Greek language comes from the Ancient Greek language and is associated with the Hellenic branch of Indo-European. Spanning 34 centuries of written records, it holds the longest documented history of any Indo-European language.

 Linear A, a language not fully decoded until today, derived from the first written Greek letters, which were found on baked mud tablets. These tablets were discovered in the remains of the Minoan Knossos Palace of Crete island. Linear B developed in the 12th century BC, dates back to the Mycenaean civilization and consisted of a drawing where each symbol represented a consonant-vowel combination. The closest language to modern Greek today is from the 9th and early 8th century BC, which was a language found based on the Phoenician syllabary, written from left to right and back again.

 Kantyli specializes in celebrating the Greek language in all of its gifts. Not only do we appreciate the Greek alphabet by engraving in Greek letters, but also we embrace its language and phrases. Whether it’s a custom phrase or a well known one, we can deliver.

The Greek Flag October 19, 2015 20:30


The Greek flag is endearingly referred to as the “sky blue and white” or the “blue and white,” similar to how the American flag is often called the “red, white and blue.” The upper left hand corner of the Greek flag is compromised of an equal-armed white cross; while the remainder of the flag contains nine blue and alternating white stripes. The top and bottom stripes are always blue and there are five blue stripes and four white ones.

The history of the Greek flag Dates back to 1822, soon after Greece declared independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821. The flag was officially adopted by Greece on Dec 22, 1978. An earlier version had a diagonal cross instead of its current square one.

As in Greek mythology, there is a plethora of versions and meanings behind the flag. The nine stripes are said to represent number of syllables in the Greek phrase “Eleutheria H Thanatos,” or “Freedom or Death!” which was a battle cry during the last revolt against the Ottoman Occupation.

The cross represents the Greek Orthodox Church, the prevailing religion in Greece. The Church played a very vital role against Ottomans. Another speculation is that the stripes could represent the nine Muses, the goddesses of art and civilization. The colors blue and white symbolize a wide variety of interpretations. One is that they represent its renowned sea (vital to the economy) and sky, along with the white clouds or possibly the waves on the ocean. Blue may also represent the color of protection, while white could also possibly represent purity. Another interpretation is that the colors reflect traditional clothing in Greece and the islands. Still another idea is that the colors symbolize Aphrodite rising up from the sea foam.

Kantyli offers an abundance of gifts with the symbolic colors of blue and white -- everything from coffee mugs to magnets. Share your knowledge of the meaning behind these colors when you give that special gift to someone. View our blue and white products.

Greek Traditions September 30, 2015 16:13

Customs and traditions are a very important part of Greek culture. They are often of a religious nature. Still today, most of the festivals and traditions are religious.

 Name day celebration

Because most Greeks are named after a religious saint, it is a very important tradition that those named after a saint celebrated by the church celebrates his name on a given day of the year. January 7, for example, is the day of Saint John the Baptist and it is the name day for all Greek people named Yannis (or Ioannis = John, male) or Yanna (or Ioanna, female). John is described as having the unique practice of baptism for the forgiveness of sins. Other names included Silvestros (Sylvestros, Sylvestor) and Nina (Nina, Ninas). Furthermore, biblical events such as Christmas and Easter are very important celebrations in Greek culture. Manolis – Emmanoula is the name celebrated on Christmas and Anastasios, Anthe, Anthi, Lambros and Paschalis for Easter.

On the “name day” of someone, friends and family visit without invitation offering wishes and small gifts. The hostess of the house offers pastries, sweets and specific dishes to the guests. Give one of our personalized gifts to someone you love for their name day celebration. Or, simply give a gift with their name engraved on one of our many products for no reason at all.

Sightseeing in Greece May 15, 2015 00:00

In Greece, you can trace the history and culture of Athens from ancient times to the present day, and pass a plethora of various shopping opportunities are along the way. You can easily visit many things to do including world famous museums, with spectacular views of ancient temples, the Acropolis and Parthenon.

Athens represents the juxtaposition of ancient history and modern life which is a very rare experience and one not to be missed. Nearby are the Theatre of Dionysus and the restored Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a superb theatre which hosts open-air performances of the Hellenic Festival and August Full Moon Festival.

The ruins of the Ancient Agora and its Agora Museum are also places of interest. The center of modern Athens, especially Kolonaki, has many designer boutiques, sophisticated restaurants and international-class hotels. The city has a thriving nightlife, with most bars and clubs staying open until at least 3 am.

The northernmost island of western Greece, Corfu is the best-known, busiest and most cosmopolitan of the Ionian Islands. Crete’s climate is ideal and its cuisine is one of the healthiest in the world. There are magnificent mountain ranges, long sandy beaches, rocky coves, water-sports, tranquil locations, clean seas, beach bars and nightlife.

The most visited and most expensive of all the Greek islands, Mykonos is known for its lively nightlife and some of Greece’s best discos. Mykonos Town, also known as Hora, comprises a modern harbor, whitewashed houses and churches, shops selling local arts and crafts, small taverns and cafes, and is backed by a hill with five thatched windmills.

In Delphi, the Museum contains a superb collection of artifacts from the site. Nearby is the pretty hillside town of Arahova, renowned for its formaela cheese

In Olympia, there is also a good Archaeological Museum, and a Museum of the Olympic Games located in the modern town.

There are churches with more gold than some countries have in their vaults and icons that perform miracles. There are virgin forests and animals that are found nowhere else but the Holy Mountain. There are many excellent travel packages available for those wishing to tour and site-see in Greece.

City of Athens May 10, 2015 00:00

Athens, the capital of Greece, is one of the oldest cities in the world. Its first inhabitants lived around the 11th-7th millennium BC. Athens combines the ancient and the new, drawing countless tourists every year. It’s a beautiful city, full of history and culture. And the gorgeous countryside offers many sights to behold, including one of the largest varieties of wildlife in Europe.

In Athens you will find many wonders such as the Parthenon. The Parthenon, built to honor the goddess Athena in 438 BC, is considered one of the world’s greatest monuments. Thought it was created to be a temple, it has had many uses over the years. It was mostly used as a treasury, then was transformed into a Christian church in the 5th century. After the Ottoman Empire took over, the building was turned into a mosque in the 1460’s. Tragically, this incredible building was damaged around this time when an ammunition dump was ignited.

There are many other incredible places to visit in Athens besides the Parthenon. The Acropolis, famous for hosting concerts and other performances, draws enthusiasts of the arts as well as history lovers and tourists. You can also visit the Roman-era Philopappos Monument and many more building and historic sites, including over one hundred archaeological museums.

Whether you’re considering a visit to Athens or you’re planning to move there, Athens is an incredible place that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime.

Decorating with Blue and White May 03, 2015 00:00

Blue and white is a common color combination, and for good reason. Depending on what shade of blue is used with the white, the room takes on an entirely different feeling.

For example, white and pastel blue is a soft, delicate color combination that works well in many rooms of the house. It’s unassuming and neutral, and would look excellent with white or pale wood furniture. In fact, it’s barely noticeable with some pale shades of blue because it blends so well with the white. This is great for people who want a teeny bit of color without it being noticeable.

White and navy blue is a classic color combination, and is used in many different themes such as nautical. You can choose from all sorts of pretty nautical decorations and patterns to get the look you want. It’s also a striking choice for a modern room- you can opt for navy walls and white trim to really create a WOW factor.

The white and cobalt blue color combination also works if you want to have a Greek themed home, since the Greek flag is blue and white. Simply add in some Greek flags, Greek road signs and so on, and you’ll have a beautiful Greek theme in no time.

Greek Festivals in the United States April 16, 2015 00:00

Attending a Greek festival is a wonderful way to get your Greek on. Not only are Greek festivals great places to meet like-minded Greeks and would-be Greeks, they are ordinarily full of fantastic Greek foods such as gyros, the skewers known as souvlakia, sausages which are called loukaniko, spinach pies that are otherwise known as spanakopita, and a wide variety of pastries to include the world-renown baklava. Additionally, any Greek festival worth its weight in olives ought to have plenty of Ouzo, the licorice flavored alcohol, Greek beer, and traditional Greek coffee.

Fun Facts about Greece April 05, 2015 00:00

Love learning about Greece? Here are some fascinating facts!

  • Voting is required by law in Greece for everyone 18 or older.

  • Greece produces about 7% of the entire world’s marble.

  • Greece is the third leading supplier of olives. It’s an ancient tradition to cultivate olive trees in Greece; some trees still producing olives today have been around since the thirteenth century!

  • Tourism is a major part of Greek culture. Around 16.5 million tourists visit Greece every year, and tourism makes up almost 16% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

  • Because of all this foreign tourism, Greece has more international airports than most countries.

  • Greece is mostly rocky and full of mountains. In fact, 80% of Greece is mountainous.

  • There are more than 2,000 islands in Greece; 170 or so are populated. Crete is the largest of these islands, measuring 3,189 square miles.

  • The entire nation of Greece is about the same size as the state of Alabama. However, the population of Greece- more than 10 million people- is more than double the population of Alabama, which is 4.5 million.

  • 12 million people in the world speak Greek.

  • Sunny Greece! There are nearly 3,000 sunny hours a year, and more than 250 days of sunshine!

  • Many of our common English words have their origins in Greek, such as apology, academy, siren, typhoon, marathon, and many more.

  • More than 40% of Greek inhabitants live in Athens, the capital.

  • The population of Athens has jumped from 10,000 (1834) to 3.6 million (2001).

  • Greek leads the world in producing sea sponges.

Many Things in American Culture Originated in Greece March 11, 2015 00:00

Many things in American culture originated in Greece. Greece is a country steeped in culture, history and tradition, and many of those traditions have touched other countries.

America was founded on the idealism of democracy. The democratic system put in place by the country’s forefathers gave the power to the people through the representatives that they vote into office. Democracy first came from Greece in the 6th Century BC.

Not only did Greeks believe in fairness (perhaps not towards women, slaves or foreigners) in government, but also in law. Athens, Greece was the place of the first trial by jury of peers. Male citizens over the age of 30 were eligible to serve on juries, and potential jurors were chosen by lot. Citizens of the same age could also run for election as a magistrate.

Philosophy came from Greek fathers Aristotle (384-322 BC), Plato (429-347 BC) and (469-399 BC). Western thought came from this philosophical genius. High school students can blame their geometry class on the Greeks. Actually, all mathematics originated with the Greeks.

The pledge made by physicians is credited to Hippocrates of Kos, was a Greek physician of the Age of Pericles. The oath is still recognized as the American Medical Association's Code of Medical Ethics.

Everyone knows that the Olympic Games came from Greece but many might be surprised to learn that the tradition held their Olympic competition every four years since 776 BC. The competitions included wrestling, boxing, the pentathlon and chariot racing. A Greek messenger was dispatched to run the 25 miles to Athens to announce the city’s success over their Persian army. The messenger died from exhaustion, and the Marathon was born.

There are many other things that originally came from Greece from tragedy to comedy, the screw to secret police, and thanks to a small piece of Greece can live in American homes.

Sounds Greek to Me! 7 Popular Greek Sayings February 24, 2015 00:00 1 Comment

The Greeks are famous for socializing around a spread of food, so it's no surprise most of their folk sayings and proverbs are food-related metaphors that are either instructive, ironic, humorous, and sometimes all three at once.

Have these sayings engraved on a wooden koutala, wood plaque or coffee mug for a bit of Greek wisdom (and laughter).

You are going to eat wood. / Θα φας ξύλο.

Imagine Yiayia wielding a giant koutala and saying, ‘You are going to eat wood.’ That may look funny, but when you are Greek and you’re Grandma looks mad, run! She means that you are going to get a beating.

Slowly, slowly, the sour grape becomes honey. / Αγάλι αγάλι γίνεται η αγουρίδα μέλι.

In life as in kitchen, people, situations or things often require a great deal of time to mature. Patience is indeed a virtue, be it οn English or Greek shores.

Life is a cucumber, either you eat it and are refreshed or you eat it and struggle. / Η ζωή είναι ενα αγγούρι: ή το τρώς και δροσίζεσαι ή το τρως και ζορίζεσαι.

Life is what we make of it. We may have been all given the same things at birth, but each of us would differ on how to use those things or advantages so that the same thing can be a curse to one person while it is a blessing to another. Alas, not all of us see the glass half-full; some of us see the glass half-empty. Americans would perhaps say to the same effect, "If life throws you lemons, make lemonade." 

There are orange trees elsewhere that grow oranges. / Υπάρχουν και αλλού πορτοκαλιές που κάνουν πορτοκάλια.

This saying refers to not getting stuck with just one person if that person turned out to be a disappointment or failed to measure up to our expectations, which often happens in relationships. So if comforting Toula who has just been jilted by Niko you may say to her that, elsewhere, there are orange trees making oranges. (A fruity version of the American, 'There are many fish in the sea.')

Where you hear many cherries, carry a small basket. / 'Οπου ακούς πολλά κεράσια κράτα μικρό καλάθι.

There is something universal about promises not fulfilled. The Greeks might advise that when you hear many promises from someone, you may want to keep your expectations low. (So when a politician is campaigning with many cherries, bring a small basket.)

We ate bread and salt. / Φάγαμε ψωμί και αλάτι.

Salt is so basic in life that Greeks consecrate them in rituals. Ancient Greeks also had more than 50 kinds of bread, and salt was not just used to eat bread with; Greek cakes were also sprinkled with it and served as dessert. So when you say that you ate bread and salt with someone, you imply that you two go a long way back.

He calls figs figs and troughs troughs. / Λέει τα σύκα-σύκα και τη σκάφη-σκάφη.

Calling figs figs and troughs troughs refer to telling it like it is, to be speaking frankly about something or someone even though it is unpleasant. This saying probably originated from an ancient Greek play with a vulgar theme, as the fig and the trough were symbolic of consummating the marriage.

Greek-Inspired Ideas and Gifts for Church Fundraising February 21, 2015 00:00

Church fundraising activities are creative approaches tapped by different organizations to support varying causes and church-inspired initiatives. Fundraising activities are starting to gain in importance as part of church life and community-building. However, pulling of a charity that’s both productive and entertaining can be quite a challenge. If you share the same campaign and advocacies and you want to help the local church, plan a different kind of fundraising activity that’s way colorful than the usual old candy and baked goodies sales of the past.

One creative approach to church fundraising is to inject a theme that will tie up all your fundraising activities, like a Greek theme. Grecian-inspired collectible items are readily available in the market and can be used as inspiration, giveaway or as a theme for a creative church fundraising activity.

Bazaar and luncheon, the Grecian way

One popular (and satisfying) way to raise funds for causes the church supports is through a luncheon. You can add a layer of character into the luncheon by opting for a Greek theme, with food and snacks inspired by the Grecian culture. For this luncheon, you can design a 3-course or 4-course meal that can be enjoyed by parishioners, family members and other guests with the proceeds going to a pre-selected cause or institution. Admission prices should be separate for adults and kids who will sign up for the event.

Of course, a Greek Fest and Luncheon is never complete without including authentic Greek food, baked goods, desserts and delis. A bazaar can serve as another alternative activity that can complement the luncheon. With the combination of bazaar and luncheon, the vibrant Grecian culture can be shared to others and can help raise funds.

Fun run with Greek-inspired picture frames as souvenirs

Fun run is often the choice fundraising activity for churches and other non-governmental organizations. But you can refresh this traditional fundraising idea by including engraved picture frames in Greek as souvenirs for those who have joined and completed the fun run. Take a snapshot while they cross the finish line and insert the photograph in the picture frame to celebrate their achievement. And to add a Greek element into the giveaway, you can engrave a congratulations or the name of the fundraising in Greek. This novel addition is not just meaningful for participants with Hellenic descent, but will be appreciated by anyone who loves unique gifts and giveaways.

How to Throw an Unforgettable Greek-Themed Party February 14, 2015 00:00

Whether in the field of architecture, sports, government, or philosophy, Ancient Greek civilization remains alive even in modern times. Aside from these sectors, many people continue to see and experience the contributions of the Greeks in the various areas of today's society and culture. This is probably why there are still a lot of people who like to come up with Greek-inspired restaurants, home décor, and celebrations.

How would you like to throw an unforgettable Greek-themed party? It will surely make an impact on your guests whether it's a class reunion, a birthday celebration, or a simple family get-together. In order to make this work, you should keep the following things in mind:

  • Invitations

    Based on your invitations, guests can ascertain the theme of your party, i.e., if it's going to be a small gathering or a big bash. Hence, you have to design them accordingly. They don't have to be expensive, as you can always use free templates online. If you know how to use Adobe Photoshop, then you can definitely just design and print out the invitations on your own with very minimal expenses.

  • Costumes

    You should ask guests to wear Greek costumes. They can come as Greek gods or goddesses, or perhaps wear something that would represent traditional Greek culture. Offer special prizes for the best costumes so as to encourage everyone to join in the fun.

    At the same time, you may want to prepare some props that could further accentuate their Greek outfits, such as garlands for the hair and maybe Greek-themed necklaces and earrings.

  • Décor

    Columns with intertwined vines are definitely reminiscent of Ancient Greece. However, if you can't rent out 3D ones, you can always just make use of 2D Styrofoam versions attached to the walls. Another option is to simply print out posters or tarpaulins you can hang around the place.

    Furthermore, if possible, you can prepare a few statues or bust sculptures that show off Greek art. It would be good as well to drape flimsy white fabric from the ceiling or use them as your curtains. Include gold trimmings plus Greek lettering and your décor is good to go!

    If you take a look at our store collection, you'll discover that we carry Greek signs for the home as well as Greek plaques that you can have customized for your party décor. Afterward, you can use them as permanent home décor or give them away as gifts.

  • Food

    Have you ever eaten in a Greek restaurant before? Yes, the Greeks have delicious food to boast about! And this is why you need to prepare the dishes well for your own party. To make the festivities even more memorable, it's essential to feed the guests with authentic Greek delicacies. You can either order them from a restaurant or cook them yourself.

    Some of the wonderful dishes you must include in your menu are the moussaka, feta and cheeses, baklava, and taramasalata. You can decorate the buffet table with Greek picture frames from our catalog when you serve these treats. It would be great to have the guests make use of our Greek-inspired mugs too, which they can bring home as souvenirs.

  • Games

    For the games, you may want to come up with your own mini Olympics or perhaps have an archery contest with the use of toy archery sets, of course. You can also hold a trivia contest or quiz bee on all things Greek.

    When you research on Ancient Greece, you'll surely be filled with other ideas for games and activities that guests can engage in at your party. Moreover, there are bound to be tons of ideas you can simply pick up from the Internet.

  • Giveaways

    It's always wonderful to have party guests bring home something to remind them of the event's memories and the good time they had. Hence, you should ponder on what kind of giveaways to provide. This will depend on the number of guests, the nature of the party, and your budget. But don't you worry! With our wide selection of Greek-inspired giveaway items, you'll surely find a couple that you and your guests would adore!

So what are you waiting for? Check out our coaster, keychains, buttons, magnets, medallions, and a lot more for the best Greek-themed party giveaways. Enjoy!

Important Holidays in Greece February 08, 2015 00:00

There are two things Greeks like to celebrate - religious holidays, and their independence. Greece is a predominantly Orthodox Christian country, so the religious holidays that are celebrated as public holidays are all Christian. And for independence, Greece has a long history of people wanting to conquer it, and the Greeks standing up for themselves and their country.

The year in Greece starts with the New Year’s Day, the first public holiday of the year. The next important holiday, the Epiphany, is only five days away, on the 6th. Epiphany is a Christian holiday, and it celebrates two important days in the life of Jesus - the day when the three wise men came to see him, and the day when he was baptized by John the Baptist.

Clean Monday, also called Ash Monday, is the beginning of the Great Lent, a 40-day long fast which starts seven weeks before Easter. March 25 is the day Greeks celebrate their independence from the Ottoman Empire. The holiday marks the date when Greece declared their independence and started the Greek War of Independence in 1821, but it’s also the date of an important Christian holiday - the Annunciation. Good Friday and Good Monday, the Friday before Easter and the Monday following it, are also national holidays with a floating date.

May 1st is Labor Day, and it’s celebrated publicly in Greece. Whit Sunday and Whit Monday, which are observed 49 and 50 days, respectively, after Easter, are next in the line of important holidays celebrated in Greece. Dormition of the Holy Virgin is the most important Christian holiday which celebrates Virgin Mary. It falls on the 15th of August. Ochi Day is the day when Greece said “no” to the Italian ultimatum of 1940, and is celebrated as another important day for the independence of Greece on October 28. After Ochi Day, Greeks celebrate Christmas on December 25, and the Synaxis of the Mother of God on the next day.

Now you know the important dates for Greeks and Greece. If you’re fond of Greek culture, or you have blood ties to Greece, you can celebrate these holidays on your own, with your family, or in one of the many Greek communities in the United States. You will need to learn what to do for each holiday though, but if you’re willing to partake in some communal celebration, you’re sure to catch up quick.

Enjoy a Cup of Greek Coffee January 07, 2015 00:00

If you are a coffee enthusiast and haven’t tried Greek coffee you are missing out. Unlike regular coffee, Greek coffee is boiled, not brewed. This method also creates foam which adds a rich, creaminess to the coffee.

Greek coffee is made by grinding freshly roasted coffee beans to a fine powder. Greek coffee beans can be found at ethnic markets or online. Fill a small cup or a demitasse cup with cold water and add to a briki, which is a small brass or copper pot with a long handle that is used to boil Greek coffee.

Add one teaspoon of the ground coffee beans into the briki. You can add more coffee for thicker foam but don’t overdo. Add sugar to taste and let the coffee sink to the bottom of the briki, dissolving the sugar into the water. Remove the teaspoon from the briki and heat on low until the water just starts to boil. An incomplete ring of foam should form on the coffee's surface. Remove the briki from the heat before the foam ring closes. Pour the coffee into its cup and serve with a sweet pastry.

To get the full flavor you should sip the coffee slowly with a glass of water. Once you start tasting the first grounds you are done; do not try to drink the coffee grounds at the bottom of the cup.

What to Expect at a Greek Wedding December 21, 2014 00:00

If you have never attended a Greek wedding, you may not know what to expect when you are invited to one. As in many cultures and religions, there are customs that carry on from generation to generation.

On the dance floor, you can expect the bride to lead a raucous dance known as the kalamatiano. The entire bridal party joins hands and skips in a circle. If you have been a guest at a Jewish wedding, this dance may be somewhat familiar to you, minus the chair. Other favored dances are the tsamiko, where skilled dancers leap into the air, and the rowdy zebekiko, where dancers sequentially take shots of ouzo off of the floor. The last dance of the night is shared by the bride and groom and guests pin money to their clothes. It is also customary for Greek men to cut their tie at the end of the reception and sell pieces to the wedding guests for cash.

Of course, expect food! Lots and lots of traditional Greek dishes are often prepared by family members. Koufetta is a key to any wedding celebration. The Timeless Mediterranean wedding favor is a bitter-sweet combination that symbolizes the hope that the difficult moments of the couple’s life will be balanced out with happiness, covered in sugar in hopes that couple has more good moments than bad. Guests are given odd numbers of these in bags - odd to show that they can't be divided up evenly, symbolizing that couple is indivisible.

When you are attending a Greek wedding, you want to give the couple a gift that reflects their culture and traditions. has a fine assortment of Greek items that is befitting for any Greek couple. Commemorate the occasion with a gift that reflects the couple's love for each other and their love of their culture.