Greece is one of the oldest cultures in Europe. Ancient Greek culture has had a strong influence on the government, the arts and ideas for the western world.
The Greeks had the first democracy in the world.
They were the first people to have an alphabet. In fact the word “alphabet” comes from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet: alpha and beta. Today, the English letters of A, B, E and O come from the Greek alphabet.
The Olympic Games started in ancient Greece. They were held every four years in honor of Zeus, the king god. Today we celebrate the Olympic Games with similar traditions of the early Greeks. We use olive leaf crowns for the opening and closing ceremonies.
Ancient Greeks understood mathematics. They discovered many geometry formulas. Greece also was home to many famous scientists. Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the earth. Aristarchus discovered that the earth revolved around the sun instead of the other way around. More famous Greek scientists include Archimedes who was able to explain levers and pulleys and Hipparchus who created a system to explain how all the planets and stars move.
We use Greek-style architecture today. Pillars are used many public buildings such as churches, libraries and government buildings.
The Greek gods were said to live on Mt. Olympus, the highest point in Greece. The most important god in Greek mythology was Zeus, the god of the sky and ruler of the gods. Early mythology came from Greece.
Aesop’s fables are famous stories about animals that talk. These stories end with a moral, a lesson that teaches you something. These fables are believed to be written by a Greek slave named Aesop, around 600 B.C.
Most people in Greece are part of the Greek Orthodox Christian Church. Easter is a very important holiday in Greece. It is a bigger holiday than Christmas. Traditionally, Greek Easter eggs are dyed bright red. Tsougrisma is a traditional game children in Greece play with Easter eggs. Each child holds an egg and tries to break someone else’s egg. The last unbroken egg is considered lucky.
Some traditional Greek dishes are avgolimono, an egg and lemon soup, moussaka, a dish made of eggplant and meat, and baklava, a dessert made of nuts, honey and thin layers of pastry. Because so much of Greece is along the coast there is a lot of fish and seafood in traditional Greek dishes. Olives and olive oil are a very important part of traditional Greek food.
The flag of Greece is blue and white and was officially adopted on December 22, 1978. It has nine horizontal blue and white stripes. There is a white cross on a blue square field in the upper left corner. The cross stands for Greek Orthodoxy, the main religion of Greece. The blue and white colors stand for the seas that surround Greece.
The government of Greece is a parliamentary democracy. The people elect 300 parliamentary deputies who form the parliament. The parliament handles making the laws. There is a Prime Minister who selects people to become cabinet ministers. The President is not elected by the people, but by the parliamentary deputies for a five year term.