Where did the Greek Dances go?

Funny when I was growing up I remember getting dragged from this dance to that dance. First it was the Kalamatiani that held their dance, then the Messinian Society. We can’t forget the Samiotes or the Athenai-Pireotes. Weekend after weekend our parents would dress in their best and off we’d go to support a local sylogo (society). Each village or territory would have their own dance to fund their group. They would be held in banquet halls holding a couple of hundred people and it would be a place where you’d see all of your friends. I can remember one event in particular at Jimmy’s Allenhurst where the girls kept running away from the boys and we snuck into a banquet hall room that wasn’t being used. Boy did we get into trouble that day. It was harmless fun and you knew you were in a safe environment.

In some places these dances have gone away. Third and fourth generation Greeks living in the diaspora may not have had the same experience that their grandparents did who immigrated to these once far off lands. I had the opportunity to grow up in a very Greek community where these dances thrived. I’m also grateful that my little one gets to grow up in a community where these dances are still taking place. This past weekend she went to her first dance. And while she could not partake in the tiropites and locanico that were being passed around as appetizers and the Greek wine that was on the table, she was able to be surrounded by the love that was in that room. The love of being Greek and in this case particularly a Greek from Petrina.

So many people came up and wanted to meet the little Miss and hold her. As I think about it, she is the next generation Greek-Canadian/American. She is the generation that we can’t let forget about her Greekness. In a country that is so culturally diverse as Canada it is very easy to do so. An uncle from Greece sent her a toy that she loves. We have named the toy Penelope, very fitting for something that speaks Greek. This toy has Greek lullabies. She sits there and listens to the teddy bear speak and she laughs. As I said to someone yesterday, it is important to me and my husband that we speak Greek to our little one as English she will hear every day of her life. If we don’t pass the Greek onto her now, it will be very easy for us to lose that piece of ourselves.

And I leave you today with one of my favourite Greek nursery rhymes that we’re lucky enough to have Penelope the teddy bear sing:

Φεγγαράκι μου λαμπρό,
Φέγγε μου να περπατώ,
Να πηγαίνω στο σχολειό
Να μαθαίνω γράμματα,
Γράμματα σπουδάματα
Του Θεού τα πράματα.

My little shining moon,
Light my way so I can walk
To go to school,
To learn my lessons,
Reading and writing,
God’s wishes.

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A little ditty about Jack and Diane...no really in all seriousness I'm a daughter, sister, wife and mother. I'm a Greek-American, who has transplanted in Canada. As a first time mom I'm sharing some things as I go along.

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