Author Archives: liaskos

Greek Mountain Village Tale

Text: In the remote mountain villages of Greece, connected by deserted roads, there’s a tradition: when faced with the unfamiliar, one should make the sign of the cross. A young woman was traversing these paths alone, a rarity as custom dictates that she should be accompanied by a male relative. Along her journey between two villages, she stumbled upon an infant. Initially, she felt no need for the protective ritual because it was only just a child. However, instinct prevailed, and she made the sign of the cross just before touching the baby. To her astonishment, the infant spoke in a chilling tone, revealing itself as a demon. It confessed that had she not performed the sign, it would have taken her to hell.

Context: When he was 12 years old, the informant  heard a story during a coffee hour following a Greek Orthodox church service. An elderly Greek woman, who had grown up in a small village but now lived in the Bronx, shared the tale, alternating between Greek and English. His mother helped translate parts of it for him. He noted that he hates the story and thinks it is “hickish” and backwards. He thinks that it’s very uneducated and the type of thing you would hear in a small town. As a Christian he doesn’t like that type of superstition/ fear element being connected to his faith.

Analysis: This story reflects the deep rooted christian beliefs held by those communities and their diaspora here. Greece has one of the highest rates of Orthodox Christianity in the world and when isolated in small mountain villages, stories like that definitely will arise. I think it reflects the dangerous conditions of the time, the informant specifically made sure to point out that the woman shouldn’t have been traveling alone because it was too unsafe but she was anyway. At the time in these tiny villages The churches were the sources of protection and knowledge for the people living there, and this story reflects that they listen to the Church’s authority. 

Greek American Ghost Memorate

Text: The informant lived in a small apartment in the Bronx. Due to the neighborhood’s known risks, his mother would meticulously lock the door, a practice the informant deemed necessary yet somewhat excessive. Over 33 years, the informant remembers the door never being left unlocked or open without explicit reason. He recalls even if he was moving back from college, his mother would lock the door in between each trip. However, the day his father passed away the informant discovered the door wide open twice, despite no signs of a break-in or any items being disturbed or stolen. The informant also explains there is an old Greek tradition that he heard about from friends that when someone dies, a male family member has to stand outside of the house for a while to prevent the soul from returning to the house.

Context: The Informant experienced this in 2001. He believes that his dad did come back into the house. He viewed it as a good thing though, somewhat contradictory to the original belief that you had to stop it from happening. Instead he took comfort in it. The informant is Christian and believes the spirit stayed around for a bit just to impart good byes to his family. 

Analysis: I think this piece reflects the strong religious belief in the afterlife among the greek population, Christianity is one of the defining parts of their culture, though this story isn’t really christian though it still reflects the belief in an afterlife. I attribute the story, in part, to the Mysticism inherent in the religious beliefs of Greek Orthodoxy. I think you can also gleam the traditional gender roles from this story as well, with the aurdmian of the house required to be male, Greece being a very traditional society, this doesn’t surprise me

Greek Legend about Alexander the Great’s Horse

Text: The informant recalls being told the story of bucephalus, a great stallion that no one could tame or ride that belonged to the king of Macedonia, Phillip. Alexander the great, his son,  made a bet with his father that if he could ride the animal it would be his. The King agreed. Alexander approached Bucephalus differently from the great generals who had tried to tame him with force. Instead of beating, yelling, or chasing, he spoke softly to the horse, praising its beauty. Realizing the horse was afraid of its own shadow, he cleverly redirected Bucephalus’s head towards the sun. This removed the shadow from view, calming the horse. Alexander was able to mount and ride Bucephalus successfully. 

Context: The informant explains he was told two things about the story. First, when someone is acting ferociously, it may not have anything to do with you, it is often because they are afraid of something. Second, that by being patient and observing you can figure out what is wrong, and by being nice you can diffuse the situation. He was told this story when he was a young boy growing up in the 70’s in New york in a Greek immigrant family. 

Analysis: I think this story serves two purposes. Firstly, it is meant to instill good values and socialize a young boy about how to handle heated situations. The second reason is to retain cultural identity. The informant is from a family of immigrants, very proud of their culture. By telling stories of Greeces most influential figures they retain their identity while instilling important values.

Legend of Icarus

The informant shared the myth of Icarus, focusing on Daedalus, a renowned inventor known for creating the Minotaur’s labyrinth, and his son, Icarus. They were confined in an open-air tower, forced to produce inventions indefinitely. Seeking freedom, they crafted large wings from bird feathers and candle wax. Before their escape, Daedalus cautioned Icarus against flying too high to prevent the wax from melting. However, Icarus, enthralled by the joy of flight, ignored the warning. He soared too close to the sun, causing his wings to melt, and tragically plummeted into the sea, leading to his death.

Context: Was told this legend as a little kid in a Greek family while being punished for not listening to his parents. He disobeyed them and they told him the story as justification for why he was being punished, saying if he didn’t learn his lesson he would end up like Icarus. 

Analysis: I think this legend reflects the dislike of ego in Greek society, with many other myths or legends being aimed at people who display hubris such as Odysseus and the cyclops in the Odyssey. The informant was told this story to encourage him to listen to his parents more and also to try and instill humility as a trait. It also works to make sure they dont lose their culture in a new society by repeating these stories to their children. 

SoCal Ghost Story

Text: When the informant was three, her grandmother, who was battling breast cancer, passed away in 1967. Choosing not to undergo the harsh treatments of the time, she died at home, survived by her husband and four children, the youngest being seven-year-old Jerry. After her passing, the grandfather remarried and continued raising the children nearby, renting out their old home. Years later, when Jerry was in college, he and his roommates, Gordy and Bob, rented this family home. Gordy occupied what used to be Jerry’s bedroom, while Jerry stayed in the master bedroom and Bob in another children’s bedroom. left it out on the dining table. Upon seeing it, Gordy was shocked and exclaimed, “What the fuck!” and “That’s the women.”  He explained that a woman resembling the one in the photos visited his room every couple of nights to turn off the lights. Bob also confessed to seeing her well. This revelation was the first time the roommates spoke of any supernatural occurrences in the house, and notably, Jerry never witnessed the apparition of the woman.

Context: The Informant believes her grandma had unfinished business, because she died leaving her cousin as a little kid. She is a devout Catholic but she says she believes in this ghost because she believes Her grandma had to try and take care of Jerry. this took place in Pasadena in 1967 and the ghost part 15 years later. The informant grew up in suburban Virginia in a Irish Catholic home

Analysis: The grandmother’s death and subsequent appearances as an apparition reflect a common motif in folklore where spirits linger due to unfinished business, in this case, to care for a family member. The informant’s integration of Catholic beliefs with the concept of ghosts demonstrates the personalization of spiritual beliefs, showing how individual experiences influence the interpretation of traditional religious doctrines.