On the first of this month, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, enjoying the funny cat videos, food photos and inspirational quotes posted by some of my friends, when it hit me: all my Greek friends had posted “Kalo mina!” Every one.
“Kalo mina” means “[Have a] good month!” and it is the Greek way of wishing their family, friends and strangers a good month ahead of them, their way of wishing you well. In fact, Greeks are notorious well wishers and will wish you well for just about any occasion.
Aside from the usual “kalimera” (good day), “kalispera” (good evening) and “kalinihta” (good night), they find other ways and reasons* to wish you well:
It starts on New Year’s Day with “Kali hronia”, [have a] good year. We’ve already mentioned “kalo mina”, but the start of the week is not to be outdone: every Monday, you’ll hear “Kali evdomada”, [have a] good week, while on Fridays, it’s “Kalo savatokiriako”, [have a] good weekend.
Just before the afternoon siesta, they wish you “kalo mesimeri”, [have a] good afternoon. A neighbour may see you returning from the grocery store and wish you “kalifagota”, good eating. Before each meal, it’s “kali orexi”, bon appetit, and as soon as you finish, it’s “kali honepsi”, [have a] good digestion! Digestion, even!
At the beginning of the summer, it’s “kalo kalokeri”, [have a] good summer, and when you get back from summer holidays, it’s “kalo himona”, [have a] good winter. Even if it’s only the first day of September.
While the economic crisis has resulted in a drop in overall happiness for Greeks compared to the rest of the EU countries, there is something charming and quaint and, well, happy about all this well wishing. It fills you with optimism that there is at least one thing each day to be happy about. (And if it’s a Monday on the first of the month just before afternoon siesta, man oh man, so MUCH to be happy about!)
Many of us go around complaining or whining, about the weather, about our jobs, about our life in general. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if we pretended to be Greek for a while and started wishing people well for any little thing instead? Would it create a ripple effect, a wave of happiness that others would pay forward? Let’s try this challenge for the next month:
1. When you feel the urge to complain about something, replace it with a happy thought for whoever is closest to you. As you can see from the examples above, you can pretty much find any excuse to wish someone well.
2. Keep track of whether your well-wishing is putting you in a better frame of mind about life in general.
3. Repeat step #1 for the next 11 months. Have a happy life!
“Kali prospathia”, [have a] good try!
* Thanks to my sister for providing these examples.