The Modern Greek People, their Character and Racial Mix Page 8

Greece presents a wide spectrum of life styles that reflect the vast cultural changes of recent decades. It is in both the urban professional Greeks and in the young people growing up now, both in cities and in the provinces, that one can point to a specifically 'Greek character', which has been molded by this recent national history.

The older, traditional way of life, does in fact still exist in Greece, but mostly in places little visited by tourists. One of these was, for a long time, the village of Olymbos, on the Dodecanisian island of Karpathos, which was much touted as an untouched mountain village with a fascinating folk culture, and accordingly much studied by ethnomusicologists, folklorists, ethnologists and the like, but once the secret was out, it became a showcase in summer, with some of the local women putting on their traditional embroidered costumes just to please the crowds.

There are, however, and even on islands visited by tourists, many villages where people still take their produce to market on donkeys, plough with horses, harvest green weeds for animals fodder, make wine, olive oil, raise meat animals, and live in the old ways, even though almost all now have television sets and relatives who live in Athens or other cities, and children who go to English lessons at the private schools geared to getting them into the highly competative free Greek universities.

The urban professionals, meanwhile, live in modern apartments, listen to western classical music, and send their kids to ballet and piano lessons (though they visit the old folks in the village and dance the old dances). The teenage girls both in cities and elsewhere wear tight pants with their midriffs (and more) exposed, and many dye their hair blond. Greek women almost anywhere who are under 50 , show up at weddings in astounding outfits of the flashiest type, with painted nails and lots of makeup. Such is modern Greece (and the modern Greeks), a combination of old rural and modern urban, very much altered with the advent of the Euro and the modern world, but still with a hard-to-define (but unique) essence of 'Greekness'.

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