Greek Listening Comprehension – C2 | Greek Listening

This Greek listening comprehension exercise is for beginners. You will listen to three audio files in modern Greek and then you will be requested to answer a few questions. Be aware that, in order to make this exercise a bit more challenging, the last two audio files will only play once.  

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Greek listening exercise example for advanced speakers (C2).

Greek Mythical Podcast

There was a time when each lake, river, tree, and mountain was believed to be guarded by a spirit. A time when nymphs played by the riversides and semi-gods embarked on their heroic journeys to fight mighty beasts in unknown lands. Or at least that’s what we have been told by ancient Greek storytellers who were able to blend imagination with real life to narrate history in their own way.

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Facts About Greek Easter | Pascha in Greece

Does the Easter bunny visit Greece to hide colorful eggs on Easter? Is Greek Easter celebrated at the same time as Catholic Easter? What are some common Greek Easter traditions? Today Helinika answers some of the most common questions regarding Greek Easter celebrations.

What Is The Greek Easter?

Greece celebrates Christian holidays according to Christian Orthodox traditions. Orthodoxy, along with Catholicism and Protestantism, is one of the three main Christian groups. And it is most prevalent in Eastern Europe. Easter is a very important religious celebration among all Christian groups; it celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the victory of life over death.

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Greek Easter Dates: When Do Greeks Celebrate Easter?

Just like most Christian countries, Greece celebrates Easter on the Sunday that follows the Spring or Paschal full moon. The main difference here is that, when it comes to Easter, the Orthodox Church follows the Julian instead of the Gregorian calendar. That means that Easter in Greece normally falls between the 4th of April and the 8th of May. Since the other two prominent Christian groups follow the Gregorian calendar, Catholic and Protestant Easter rarely coincide with Orthodox Easter.

How Is “Easter” Called in Greek?

The Greek name for Easter is “Πάσχα” (Pascha), a term that derives from the Jewish word “Pesach”, meaning “Passover”. That is because Easter is celebrated after the Jewish Passover and it is always calculated based on the Paschal full moon.

Other Greek names for Easter are “Λαμπρή” (Labri), meaning “bright” or “glowing”, and “Ανάσταση” (Anastasi), meaning “Resurrection”.

Is It Common to Fast Before Greek Easter?

Orthodox Christians are required to go through a mental and physical preparation that lasts 40 days and ends with the Anastasi. This preparation, known as Lent in other countries, includes a type of fasting. Greeks try to eliminate thoughts and actions of hate and violence from their daily lives. They also exclude certain food groups from their diet – mostly animal products. This fasting is called “nistea” and Greek restaurants and shops always include nistea-friendly foods during this period.

Today, many people choose to exclude meat and dairy from their diet only during the last week before Easter Sunday. That is the “Evdomada ton Pathon” or “Megali Evdomada” – which is called “Holy Week” in English. Once the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is announced in the early hours of Easter Sunday, the nistea ends. People are free to celebrate by consuming foods that are high in proteins and fats, such as eggs and lamb.

What is the Holy Fire or Hagio Phos?

On the Eve of Easter Sunday, just before midnight, Greek Orthodox Christians visit their local Church holding flameless candles. Children usually receive their candles from their godparents, along with other treats. Believers gather at the church awaiting the Resurrection and the Hagio Phos or Holy Fire.

The Holy Fire is a recurring miracle that occurs every year in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem, at the place where it is believed that Jesus was buried and resurrected. Believers await the fire that lights spontaneously on this exact spot every Holy Saturday. The flame is then transported to Greece by a special flight and received by Church and state leaders in a ceremonial way. It is then distributed all over Greece and given to the masses by the priests at midnight. Since the priests can’t light each individual’s candle, each person receives the flame from one another – an act that symbolizes the unity of the group.

Does The Easter Bunny Come to Greece?

No, the Easter Bunny and the hunting for colorful eggs is not a Greek Easter tradition. Children rarely receive chocolate Easter bunnies during that time. On the contrary, they receive chocolate eggs from their godparents, along with their Easter candles.

Although painting eggs is a Greek Easter tradition, you will rarely see pink, green, or patterned eggs. The only color that is deemed traditional is the color of blood: dark red. This color symbolizes life and it is the most appropriate color for the celebration of the victory of life over death.

What Are Some Common Greek Easter Traditions?

There are many Greek Easter traditions that have survived to this day. For example. Just moments after the announcement of the Resurrection on the night before Easter Sunday, it is common to light the sky with fireworks. In some places, some unique events take place, such as an exchange of “rockets” between local churches (you can see them all on our dedicated page).

Most traditions, however, revolve around food. After the Anastasi, it is common to eat “Mageiritsa”, a soup made of lamb and vegetables. On Easter Sunday, it is a tradition to roast lamb with the whole family in the countryside. It is also common to play a game by trying to crack each other’s hard-boiled eggs by lightly tapping them against each other.

What Are Some Foods Greeks Enjoy on Easter Sunday?

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Greek Listening Comprehension – B2 | Greek Listening

greek audio b2

Καλημέρα. Good morning. This Greek listening comprehension exercise is for intermediate speakers. You will listen to three audio files in modern Greek. Then you will be requested to answer a few questions.

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Untold Stories from Athens, Greece

stories athens

Each city has its obvious, well-known places and landmarks. Athens, the capital of the Hellenic Republic of Greece, has the Acropolis Hill, Syntagma square, the Agora, and so many other historical sites and attractions. Today, we discover some hidden, secret stories that are tied to some of the most popular Athenian landmarks. These stories include creative assassination plans, ancient curses, and hidden rivers.

Stories Behind Popular Attractions in Athens:

  1. Monkey Attacks the King of Greece at the National Gardens
  2. The Magic Olive Tree on the Acropolis Hill
  3. Ancient Curses and “Voodoo” Objects in Kerameikos
  4. Tricking Ancient Athenians To Becoming Active Citizens… With A Rope

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Tricking Ancient Athenians into Becoming Active Citizens… With A Rope

The first story behind a popular Athenian attraction takes place in the ancient Agora of Athens and the Pnyx; both places can be visited in the Greek capital. The Agora of Athens was a marketplace and meeting point for ancient Athenians. The Pnyx was a place designated for public speaking and hosting assemblies during the years of direct Athenian Democracy.

According to some historical records from Thucydides – but mostly from plays written by the ancient comedian Aristophanes – we get the impression that ancient Athenians loved to discuss politics but often despised attending the assemblies. Sometimes, when they were called to attend the ecclesia (the citizen’s assembly) at the Pnyx, they would stay at the agora, gossiping and engaging in casual conversations.

It is said that in order to encourage the citizens to engage in political conversations and vote on important subjects, certain people were assigned a peculiar task. They would grab a rope that was painted red that they called “μεμιλτωμένον σχοινίον” and start walking across the agora, forcing the crowd to follow them. They would basically herd the citizens towards Pnyx to attend the meetings.

Since we mostly know of the so-called “μεμιλτωμένον σχοινίον” from an ancient comedian, this story is often considered exaggerated. Some scholars believe that the red rope story was told by oligarchs who wanted to diminish the importance of the ecclesia. However, everyone agrees that there is… some truth to it.  

Ancient Curses and “Voodoo” Objects in Kerameikos

Kerameikos neighborhood is known for an archaeological site that includes parts of the “Iear Odos, the Sacred Way, the led Athenian to Eleusis for the Eleusinian Mysteries. They were held by a cult dedicated to goddess Demeter and Persephone and its members believed that they could reveal secrets about the afterlife.

The archaeological site also includes the ancient necropolis of Athens. Necropolis means “city of the dead” in Greek. It used to be the cemetery of Athens from the 9th century BC till the Roman era.  People can visit the area and observe the tombstones of that time.

Perhaps, the most interesting part of this site is the museum that preserves and showcases the artifacts that were found in the burial ground. Some of these artifacts reveal a secretive and lesser-known aspect of the daily lives of ancient Athenians. If you visit the museum, you will not only see pottery, jewelry, and offerings to the dead, but also some… stone tablets with curses that aimed to inflict harm on people.

Although witchcraft practices were banned in classical Athens, certain people would seek help from the paranormal to take revenge on those who wronged them or to cause harm to their political and legal opponents. In one of these tablets, for example, a man is requesting to have his opponent’s tongue tied during his speech in court.

The reason why the people buried these curse tablets in graves is related to the belief that the souls of the dead would carry them in the underworld. Hades was not just housing human souls. It was also the home of chthonic deities, such as Hecate. The latter is a goddess associated with the darkness and witchcraft. She would supposedly gather the tablets and she would then decide whether she would make them come true.

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The Magic Olive Tree on the Acropolis Hill

If you visit the Acropolis Hill of Athens, the sacred hill of the Greek capital, you will not only the Parthenon, but also the Erectheion. It is a temple dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon, the gods who competed against each other for the title of the protector of Athens.

As the name of the city suggests, Athena was the winner. That was because she made an offer Athenians couldn’t reject: the olive tree. According to the myth, the citizens saw a business opportunity in exporting olive oil all over the Mediterranean. They voted for Athena and she introduced the first olive tree in Athens.

Believe it or not, this olive tree can be found next to the Erectheion to this day. Of course, we do not know whether it was in fact created by an ancient Greek goddess. But we do know that it is somehow connected to the olive tree that ancient Athenians worshipped as such.

You may notice that this particular olive tree is quite slender and doesn’t look old enough. That’s because the tree reportedly spawned from a branch from the original sacred olive tree that was partly destroyed during World War II.

 Monkey Attacks the King of Greece in Athens

Perhaps the most peculiar story that takes place in Athens is the factual monkey attack against King Alexander of Greece in 1920. King Alexander was a 27-year-old who was stripped of his powers by the liberal party of Greece and who was used as a “puppet-king”, according to historians.

One day, he decided to take one of his long walks with his dog in nature. Some say that he took his walk in the Royal Gardens of Athens that are now known as “National Gardens”. Others suggest that he took his walk in Tatoi Forest which surrounded the estate of the former Greek Royal Family.

During his walk, Alexander came face to face with two… monkeys that got scared by the barks of his dog. One of the monkeys tried to attack his dog, while the other ran towards the king and bit him on his leg. The wound didn’t seem serious at first. However, it soon got infected by bacteria, leading to sepsis. The doctors could save him by amputating his leg, however, this option was denied. An amputated king would give off a weak image of Greece, according to those in power.

The event was so peculiar that rumors started spreading. Some believed that the monkey attack was an assassination that was carefully planned by his opponents. Monkeys are not native in Greece after all. It is said that they belonged to the botanist who took care of the National Gardens and the Forest of Tatoi. He has imported them from Africa and kept them as pets.

The attack occurred during the years of the Greco-Turkish War which aimed at regaining regions in Asia Minor that were part of the Byzantine Empire. According to historians, this attack ended up creating a political turmoil that resulted in the Great Fire of Smyrna two years later. As well as the exchange of populations between the two countries, with the exodus of Greek refugees to mainland Greece. This is why Winston Churchill once wrote that: “it is perhaps no exaggeration to remark that a quarter of a million persons died of this monkey’s bite.”

Mysterious Places in Thessaloniki | Mysterious Greece

 The second most populated city in Greece is located in the northern part of the country. Named after the sister of Alexander the Great, Thessaloniki is a city rich in history.  But it’s also one of the most mysterious places in Greece. After discovering the mysteries of Athens and the Greek islands, today we unearth the most exciting, peculiar, and dark parts of the “nymph of the Thermaic Gulf”, as the city is called. Keep in mind that these are real locations in Thessaloniki; but the stories surrounding them are based on rumors, rather than facts.

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4 Mysterious Places in Thessaloniki, Greece:

  1. Kipoi tou Pasha (Pasha’s Gardens)
  2. Odos Mavris Petras (Black Rock Street)
  3. The Red House of Thessaloniki
  4. The Roman Hippodrome

The Cursed Roman Hippodrome

June 20, 1978, was unusually hot. People in Thessaloniki were already preparing for the night. Some were returning home after meeting with friends. Others were getting ready for bed and way too many were already sleeping. Or, perhaps, the heat kept them restless, tossing and turning for hours. But that summer night gave them another reason to stay awake.

At 23:03, the whole city was shaken to its core. Literally. An earthquake of 6.2/6.5 magnitude, which was later described as “severe” (VIII Mercalli intensity), had hit Thessaloniki. Hundreds of people were injured and thousands of buildings either collapsed or appeared to have irreparable damages. But this earthquake was also deadly. It took the lives of 49 people (estimate), most of whom were trapped in the same block of flats at the heart of the city.

Earthquakes are not a common occurrence in Thessaloniki. After the incident, many rumors spread around the city. Many locals found it odd that the biggest tragedy occurred in one apartment building. A building that was rumored to be cursed by the souls of tens of thousands of innocent people that were executed at that same spot in 392 AD.

According to some locals, the building was built at the center of what once was the Roman Hippodrome of Thessaloniki, parts of which have survived over the years. In 392 AD, the Roman emperor Theodosius the Great reportedly ordered the execution of approximately 7.000-18.000 innocent people. The hippodrome was the only place he could gather them all. He wanted to make a show of strength, after being criticized by the public for his extreme taxation measures and brutal suppression methods. A group of locals had also attacked a group of Goths who were used by Theodosius to gather the taxes.

The scene was brutal. According to the rumors, the marble floor of the hippodrome was soaked in the blood of those executed. The locals were not allowed to pay tribute to the dead, leaving thousands of souls restless. Eventually, family members of the victims found the courage to pay tribute to them; an act that became an annual tradition, that was later followed by complete strangers. They built a column with the names of all the victims that, according to an urban legend, it bled once a year.

Centuries passed by and the city of Thessaloniki now looked much different than how it looked in the 4th Century AD. A block of flats made of cement stood to the exact spot where the column once stood. However, few people were willing to reside there. Rumor had it that every new family that moved there, would receive a book with the history of the neighborhood. Locals said that certain apartment walls would bleed once a year, with the residents getting used to this phenomenon. On that day, strange people would visit the area to sing hymns in old Greek.

This building no longer exists. It was the one that collapsed after the earthquake of 1978, taking the lives of 37 people. On the exact same spot that the marble was once soaked in the blood of thousands of innocent people. The story blends history with mythology. What we do know is that the area covering the old hippodrome of Thessaloniki is one of the city’s most mysterious places.

The Red House of Thessaloniki

Many Greek cities, including Athens, failed to maintain their old charm. Their architectural wonders, such as their neoclassical buildings, have been destroyed or left to rot. But Thessaloniki might be an exception. The second most populated Greek city is known for its prestigious architectural gems. By strolling through the city you will find many Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Eclectic buildings from the late 19th Century.

A building that stands out is the so-called “Red House” of Thessaloniki. The three-story mansion has a distinct red brick exterior, hence its name. In reality, it is called “Megaro Longou” (Longos Mansion) and it has been listed by the Greek Ministry of Culture for preservation. The architectural style is described as “Neobyzantine”.

The building is located in Agias Sofias Square in the center of Thessaloniki. It was designed in 1926 to house the wealthy family of Grigorios Longos, a textile industrialist. As soon as the mansion was built, the Longos family reportedly went bankrupt. The same happened to the company that constructed the building. Although this era is known as the Great Depression, rumors spread regarding the hypothetical curse of the building.

Although a part of the ground floor is now a business, nobody resides in the above apartments. However, locals often report seeing an old couple entering the building late at night, without keys. Others have seen pale faces in some of the top windows. Due to its red exterior and unique design, some believe that vampires reside in the Longos Mansion. Kids often avoid passing by the building late at night.

Odos Mavris Petras (Black Rock Street)

Ano Poli is an area located in the northern part of Thessaloniki. Built on rocky, hilly land, the historical neighborhood is known for its stone-paved alleys and traditional houses. A visitor or even a local can easily get lost in Ano Poli. And it might be hard finding your way back with your smartphone map. While wandering in the neighborhood, it feels like traveling back in time. No cars or modern buildings on sight.

But there is one specific alley that seems to cause visitors to get lost in time and space. That is the Odos Mavris Petras, the Black Rock Street. This small alley normally leads to a dead-end. However, rumor has it that, if you wander around after midnight, the street might reveal to you some hidden parts of Ano Poli. Others say that it might lead you to parallel dimensions or even back in time. Similarly to what happened to the protagonist in the movie “Midnight in Paris”.

This urban myth might have been inspired by a sci-fi story by Pantelis Giannoulakis. However, others suggest that the sci-fi story was the one inspired by people’s testimonies. Rumor has it that the alley got its name from a large black rock that once fell from the sky and landed on that exact spot. Since then, late at night, a portal to other dimensions opens for the adventure seekers.  

Kipoi tou Pasha (Pasha’s Gardens)

The most mysterious-looking place in Thessaloniki, Greece, is located near the previously mentioned street. The Pasha’s Gardens, also known as Dragon Houses, are basically a large green oasis in Ano Poli.

Constructed in 1904, they combine greenery with peculiar ruins made of stone. According to some, these constructions were inspired by Antoni Gaudi and Catalan Modernism. Nobody knows who designed this interesting landmark. However, locals say that the architect was Italian.

Since the gardens have many mysterious constructions, such as an underground passage that leads nowhere, as long as some esoteric symbols, the urban legends surrounding it are endless. It is said that the stones used for the unique constructions were all hit by lightning. Also, rumor has it that the gardens were the meeting place of Ottoman freemasons. Did any human and animal sacrifices take place there?

Although the landmark is supposed to be a place of relaxation for its visitors, many people report feeling nauseous and uneasy upon arrival. It is considered a location that is full of energy, with some describing it as “mostly negative”. Regardless of whether these rumors are true or not, the Pasha’s Gardens of Thessaloniki are truly mysterious.