The romantic country of Greece is known for its unique Greek Orthodox marriage ceremonies filled with symbolism. But marriages are proceeded by a time of courtship. Greece has a history of interesting courtship practices including arranged marriages and dowries. Today, Greek men and women are inventing new ways to connect using the Internet.
Dowries and Arranged Marriage
Traditionally, marriages were often arranged by parents and the family of the bride was expected to pay a dowry. Today, a vestige of the tradition survives in the "kidnapping" of the bride by the family or friends of the groom. While in ancient times, the bride may have been held captive for a higher dowry, today it means she will be wined and dined by the groom's friends, according to the website Greek Weddings and Traditions.
In the 1970s and 1980s, a type of Greek male was famous for "harpooning" foreign women. Called "Kamaki," the men propositioned female tourists on islands such as Rhodos and Crete. Kamaki are featured in the films "Colossi of Love" and "The Parisienne." The website Keep Talking Greek suggests that young men 30 or 40 years ago had less difficulty wooing tourists than the more traditional Greek woman.
Greek couples customarily get engaged before marrying. Traditionally, the man asks the father for the woman's hand. A priest blesses the engagement rings, often pearl, and places them on the left ring-fingers of the man and woman. The website Greeka states that guests wish "kala stephana" (good crowns = have a good marriage) and "I ora I kali" (that the good hour comes = the marriage). This custom is followed in rural areas outside Athens.
Greek Dating Websites
Today, a new custom is emerging. Like in the United States, Greek dating websites populate the web. Many of these websites are free; some look to link people of Greek ancestry who live in cities outside of Greece. With names such as ElgibleGreeks.com, these sites help maintain Greek culture in an ever-changing world.