Here are 10 Greek Traditions and Superstitions For New Babies:
Note: This is not a list of instructions. I do not suggest that you follow these “rules” with your own baby. However you might hear these statement from people in your family when you have a baby of your own. Or maybe old Greek ladies (who you have never met before) will walk up to you at Church to offer their advice. Ha!
There are many Greek superstitions for every occasion – weddings, christenings, birthdays… everything!
Here are some that I have been told recently since having my own baby:
1. Give Honey To A Baby When Visiting The House For The First Time
This tradition is a little controversial because medical professionals suggest that babies SHOULD NOT eat honey until they are at least 12 months old.
However some Greek families will give a spoonful of honey to a new born baby when he/she visits a house for the first time. It is done to wish the baby a sweet life. I have heard that other cultures give new born babies turkish delight or other sweet things.
If someone offers your baby a sweet treat when you visit their house, don’t feel bad to speak up. If you don’t want your baby to eat something, then say no! Don’t worry about hurting other people’s feelings. This is your child and you should be able to feed your baby whatever you think is right.
(Unless it’s your mother-in-law, in which case you should read this: Surviving A Greek Mother In-Law).
2. Never Wash A Baby’s Cloths At Night Time
Bad spirits or the devil will come if you wash baby clothes or hang them out to dry at night time. Make sure you wash baby clothes during the day and hang them in the sun.
Everyone told me about this tradition when I was pregnant. Especially when we were talking about the first wash and preparing for the new baby to come.
Now, I think about it every time I hang the washing out on the line. I also think about it when it’s raining or if I’m really busy and I have to hang the washing out at night. Sometimes I feel bad and then re-wash the babies clothes again in the morning and hang them in the sun (just in case).
The sun is very powerful! It gets rid of stains and it makes whites, whiter. I personally use modern cloth nappies and the poo stains always come out when they are put under direct sun light. It is amazing. So I can see the practical connection between the superstition. It makes sense. It is much better to hang clothes in the sun.
3. Don’t Let The Baby Look In The Mirror
I don’t know why this rule is a superstitious belief. I’ve just been told not to let my baby see his own reflection until after he is Christened. Needless to say, we have mirrors everywhere and it’s really hard to do this one.
4. A New Mother Must Stay At Home For 40 Days
A new mother must not be seen in public for 40 days. This is because people are jealous of her.
It is an Orthodox tradition for a new mother to stay at home for 40 days after birth. However, the jealousy part is more of a superstitious old wives tale. I have written two blog posts about this in the past.
- The Orthodox Tradition – 40 Days After The Birth Of A Child – Sarantismos
- The Old Wives Tale – Yiayia’s Advice To Protect A New Mother From The Evil Eye
5. Babies Are Named After Their Grandparents
Traditionally the first boy will be named after his grandfather from his father’s side. Depending on which part of Greece you are from, the daughter is named after the grandmother, from her mother’s side. Read more about this tradition here: The Greek Tradition of Naming Your Child.
The God parents are expected to buy a list of items for a baby on their Christening day. Shoes is one of them. Here is a list of other items: What Should God Parents Buy For A Christening
I understand this tradition. However, how do you follow it if you plan to christen your child when they are older? How long do they have to wear sock for before you are allowed to put shoes on them. What about adults? I’ll write about this tradition in more detail one day soon.
7. Don’t Cut The Baby’s Hair Until After the Christening
A child hair is cut by the Priest at an Orthodox Christening. Again, more about this tradition coming soon.
When visiting the baby for the first time some people will put money under the baby’s pillow.
These days, SIDS And Kids would probably not recommend this as a “safe tradition”. Gifts of money is best given inside a card, in a money box or directly to the parents.
9. Spit On The Baby To Avoid The Evil Eye
I must first say this… nobody has actually spit on my baby haha! But they do pretend to. I will usually follow a lovely compliment of some kind. For example:
“Your Baby has beautiful blue eyes”
Spit, spit, spit.
Spitting on people is used to avoid misfortunes and so that you don’t give the evil eye. The spit will chase the bad spirits away.
Here is a blog post that explains the evil eye in more detail: Yiayia’s Advice To Protect A New Mother From The Evil Eye
10. Put A Mati On The Baby
A little gold pin with a blue mati (blue eye) is often put on the baby to keep the evil spirits away.
Some pins have a religious pillow on it.
The pillow and the mati should not be worn together. Just as a mati and a cross should not be worn together. This is because, the mati is considered superstitious and the Church doesn’t “believe” in it and a baby shouldn’t wear a Cross until he/she is christened.
Different people do different things. I have been told lots of traditions which as often conflicting with what someone else has told me to do. So, my advice is just to do what you want to do for your own child. Listen to everyone’s suggestions respectfully but make your own decision for your new born baby.
If you know any more superstitions or do you know any others about new born babies?
Please tell me by leaving a comment. I’d love to know!
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