Kalo Mina ~ Why All Greeks Wish This Upon You

by Mary Papoulias-Platis

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Greeks have many beautiful sayings, especially words that greet friends, family and strangers. And Kalo Mina, is one commonly used today.

One of my favorite quotes is from the Greek Author, Nikos Kazantzakis as he writes that his grandfather in Crete, “…took his lantern each evening and made the rounds of the village to see if any stranger had come. He would take him home, feed him, give him a bed for the night, and then in the morning send him off with a cup of wine and a slice of bread.”

I began this post explaining this simple common greeting you may receive at the beginning of the month, but then I realized I could write a dissertation on the subject.  It goes all the way back to ancient history. Of course it does, and I promise I would never go back that far.

The first day of the month is important to the Greek culture. Greetings will be made among the locals throughout the day, in town and at home. It brings smiles to everyone, and begins the month with hope. Wishing someone well for the month, is extending yourself in the kindness manner.

Hospitality, (philoxenia), is taught from birth in the Greek household. Everyone is invited into your home, visitors including strangers. From morning till midnight. Why would you do this, you may ask? One old saying that stays true today is, ” If the pot boils, friendship lives”. For Greeks here in the states, food is an integral emotional part of their ethnic identity and one of their most satisfying traditions.

Easter with lamb

Believe me, my father would constantly bring home sailors in town from Greece, for dinner and show them all around San Diego for days.  As a little girl to be seen with a young clan of Greek sailors around town, wasn’t quite what people expected. I soon got accustomed to my dad and his friends. And yes, that’s me in the picture, around 6 years old.

Avocado Ranch

But even, The Greek Orthodox Church in town has a greeter today at the entrance of the church, welcoming visitors passing through. Many times after the Sunday church service, the ladies of the church would prepare coffee and sweets for everyone to enjoy. This still goes on today, when you visit our churches.

Uncle Mike downtown San Diego

In the city, it was expected that travelers would receive the same consideration as their fellow townsmen. Along with that, you may receive the “double kiss” on both cheeks as a common greeting as well! Watch out for the yiayias, as they go beyond the kissing, and squeeze your cheek until it bruises! One fond memory.

To all my friends and family, have a Kalo Mina!





© 2015 – 2019, Mary Papoulias-Platis. All rights reserved.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Katina Vaselopulos

Beautiful post, Mary!

You so well describe the Greek philoxenia and the philotimia that are inherent to the Greek culture and its people.

I grew up in a home that was always open. A few times we woke up in the early morning to find that friends and relatives had taken over our living room. We never used keys to lock the doors, and my father always brought villagers for lunch and even dinner and sleep when he had not enough time to fix their implements.

The same goes for me here in the States, as well as for many, many other Greeks. Yes, food always is the focal point of gatherings and all kinds of celebrations.

Have a wonderful September, celebrating life and fall!

2 Kathy

My dear long lost neighbor! I love, love, love this post, especially learning more about your family! Kalo Mina!

In the spirit of FOOD, FAITH and FRiENDS, I hope to see you soon!! Do miss you!
Your ole neighbor,

3 Mary Papoulias-Platis

What are we to do. Your busy, I’m busy. Loved seeing you in the morning for a quick chat. Moving wasn’t good for us. Let’s chat soon.

4 Mary Papoulias-Platis

Thank you Katina! The tradition as we call it here, although it is a lifestyle in Greece, has always played a big part of the Greek culture. I love your story of your home, must had been a surprise when you were young to have strangers in the house overnight. But as time goes on, we all adjusted to the welcoming parade, as us kids called it, when we were young.
May September be a blessing to you, and hopefully someday we will meet.

5 Colin Bowes

My wife Denise and I greet each other on the first day of the month with Kalo Mina although we are from English/Scottsh backgrounds.It was on Kefalonia some years ago that our host Yannis taught us the greeting.We went into Sami that morning ang greeted each shopkeeper/cafe owner that we met.We received great reactions and in one shop got a free pen ! We go to Paphos , Cyprus each year and Colin fell in love with the island when he worked there in 1977. See his kndle book All Claims Great and Small under the pen name James Buchanan which includes his Cyprus/Beirut adventures !

6 Mary Papoulias-Platis

Thank you for that lovely story of your memories in Greece. I love to carry the tradition of Kalo Mina with my family and kids. Hopitality as you know in Greece is an unforgettable experience. I’m so happy you were able to embrace it. Yes, I will look up his book as I thoroughly enjoy exploring new areas of Greece.

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