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Social Life in Greece

Behavior

The Greeks are very well aware of the world around them as well as the differences in opinions and behaviors. Because of this they are quite understanding of various cultures and foreigners so odd behaviors are generally accepted (but not encouraged).

Your behavior should begin with modesty as being loud, rude, showing off wealth, or dressing provocatively will get you stares. Likewise, placing yourself above others or boasting is viewed negatively.

As a visitor to Greece, just try to follow the lead of the locals by dressing in like manner (see below for details), dining in the local etiquette (see our Greece Dining & Food Page), and avoid sensitive conversation topics, such as politics, finances, and business unless initiated by your local counterpart.

Dress

Traditional Greek dress is more than just a simple loose-fitting cloth as the Classical Period would have you believe. In fact, the Greek chiton or tunic was one of the greatest influences on today's shirt and in this way the ancient Greeks helped shape modern western-styled clothing. Over time the dress continuously changed; in about the 1800s the dress at that time is now considered traditional dress, but the variation on these outfits vastly differed from region to region and socio-economic class to socio-economic class.

For men the most widely recognized traditional dress is called a foustanella or a tsolias. It consists of a white skirt, a shirt with loose-fitting sleeves, and a vest called a fermeli, which can be in a number of different colors. Other regional outfits also existed for men, including the vraka, which was popular on the islands of the Aegean Sea. For women the traditional clothing is more regionally based; the desfina is a long-sleeved white dress with a decorated vest common in one region, the women on Crete tended to wear loose-fitting pants and long aprons, which were generally heavily decorated, and in central Greece the most traditional dress is actually a wedding dress called a karagouna, which is white, but also includes bright colors and jewelry.

Today the best place to see these outfits are at the Presidential palace since the guards wear the foustanella, but otherwise this traditional dress is rarely worn or seen. Today the people of Greece tend to wear modern western-styled clothing.

As a visitor to Greece you are free to wear nearly any western-styled clothing. On the islands swimsuits and liberal clothing are common and well accepted, while on the mainland the dress is often more conservative. In generally just dress for the occasion, and remember the cities tend to be a bit more formal. Lastly, sunbathing naked or women sunbathing topless is only permitted in certain places so always be sure to know where this is allowed before doing so.

This page was last updated: November, 2013