My Experience with Greek Weddings and Pantyhose

by Mary Papoulias-Platis on

How can these two subjects make me happy and sad at the same time! Well, it’s wedding time again, my nephew Bobby and his lovely fiance will be getting married in Chicago this weekend. We will be flying out this weekend for the big event, but why do I dread this happy Greek Wedding  day? Well, it goes back as far as my childhood….
I remember being the chosen one to walk my mother’s airmail letters to the local La Mesa market. My mother immigrated from Corinthos, a small village in Greece, leaving many family members behind. She wrote to her mother quite often telling her of her experiences in California. Letters, however, were not the only item she had me carry to the post office.
I was also asked to send box after box of Hane’s nylons. When my mother spotted them on sale at the local shopping mall, she would rush in and buy a dozen or more!  But, why so many? I was never quite sure why she was sending so many pairs of pantyhose and to whom.  All I knew is that it was my job was to make sure that they were delivered immediately.
Now, I’m older and recently took my first trip to Greece with my brother and his wife,Vicky. Little did I know what was ahead on this long awaited and wonderfully exciting trip. The reason for visiting Greece was to attend a wedding and an anniversary party. Yes, I said wedding. It was mid-June in Greece: hot, muggy, and felt like 105 degrees.  As I was getting dressed for the wedding I came across my own carton of pantyhose, and suddenly all I could hear was my mother’s voice, “Maria, you will always wear nylons to church, no matter what!” So, despite the uncomfortable heat, I knew I had no other choice but to pull on that infamous pair of nylons.
When we arrived at the wedding, the majority of the guests are standing outside of the church fanning themselves.  The churches in Greece are small and without air conditioning, so standing outside was the best way to stay cool. But instead of joining the others, I chose to stay inside the church and sweat it out to be respectful to the couple getting married. As I was trying to forget about the heat, I started hearing whispers coming from the pews behind me. In Greek I heard, “She must be an American because she has pantyhose on!”  I turned around to find a row of old yiayias (grandmother in Greek) staring at me. So, in Greek I replied to them, “I am Greek-American. My mother is from Corinth, and my father is from Psiri.”  If you could have witnessed the look in their eyes! Not only had I embarrassed them, but they now had to spend the rest of the day with me.  I was satisfied, but as I left the church, I really did feel “American” and out of place.  Because despite what my mother had insisted, none of the ladies were wearing pantyhose. I decided from that point on, I would toss my pantyhose and try and fit in!
As we ventured further across the country, I finally started to feel more comfortable and more accepted into their society. As I began to speak more often to my relatives, my Greek became a touch more fluent. But, for some mysterious reason they could always tell we were Americans. Could it have the been our sparkly new white Adidas tennis shoes, my brother’s brightly printed Hawaiian shirts, or just the fact we had to take a shower everyday and always look clean and presentable. Again, we heard voices every morning in our head from our mother,  ”You’re not going out like that, you must clean up and look nice!” Oh well, I guess we just couldn’t hide it, and we had to accept the fact we looked like tourists.
The last event was coming up, the anniversary party for Vicky’s parents. Again, it was sweltering. It was so hot that my make-up was dripping down my neck. And again I was presented with the same dilemma: how was I to slip on those pantyhose in this weather?  I decided to trash them for this event; I just couldn’t bear the thought of wearing them! Sorry, Mom. The reception was just beginning, when I was struck by lightening!  My Greek aunt from America was attending the event, and as I was approaching the dance floor, she grabbed my arm. In a horribly mean voice, said to me, “Maria, where are your nylons? You’re an American and we brought you up right, don’t lower yourself and go without nylons ever again!” I just couldn’t win.
So today, I am presented with my same thoughts as I pack my bags for the upcoming wedding, “Do I pack nylons for my trip to this Greek wedding in Chicago, or not?”

My brother,my sister-in-law,and myself at the wedding in Athens

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Laurie Constantino July 16, 2010 at

Absolutely hilarious post! You painted such a clear picture, I felt like I was there. Just finished reading and enjoying your entire blog, and am looking forward to seeing where you take it in the future…

admin July 17, 2010 at

Loved your site too! I love your twist and I can’t believe Alaska is so beautiful! How long have you been blogging? Who published your book? I’m looking for one now.
Good luck and keep up the great work!

Laurie Constantino August 16, 2010 at

A little late answering, sorry! I’ve been blogging since 2007 and the book was published as a fundraiser for our local Greek Orthodox Church’s building fund (we started construction in May). Glad you liked the blog!

ADAMANDIA TSARDOUNIS December 20, 2010 at

we look American…..cuz we —SMILE—-WE ARE HAPPIER…WE AR ENOT FEARFUL…ITS AMAZING HOW SCARED AND SERIOUS GREEKS IN GREECE LOOK!!!!
PLUS WE TALK STRAIGHT…..NOT IN PHONY LILTY TONES…OMGOSH..I GOT TIRED OF THE STARING!!!
LOL…CORINTHOS…A SMALL TOWN!!!…LMAO…..I HAVE ONLY SEEN IT AS A BIG CITY!!! WOW!!…KEEP WRITING UR AWESOME!!

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