Growing up, I spent nearly every summer at my grandparent's house in Koroni, Greece. My brother and I spent our days playing at the beach, exploring the town square and running through the cobblestone streets. Each time we left the house, my Yiayia Katerina often told me to be careful about one, specific thing: The Evil Eye.
As a young child, I never believed that someone could simply give you a curse just by looking at you. But, the Evil Eye is an ancient belief - and actually isn't only in Greek culture. Historically, the little blue "mati" started in Mesopotamia & Ancient Greece, but it's prevalent in modern-day Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity. So, you've likely heard of it as well!
What is the Evil Eye?
The basis of the Evil Eye goes something like this: you wake up feeling refreshed and energized after a great sleep. But, after a morning coffee with a friend you suddenly come down with a terrible headache and an inexplicable foreboding feeling.
From 6th century BC up until even today, it would be quite normal for your Greek family and friends to think of this experience as an Evil Eye curse. The Evil Eye could be intentional, or random - and women or young children are said to be most vulnerable.
How can you prevent it?
Even though I'm still not convinced that older women or blue-eyed people, as the Greeks believe, can send you bad luck through a stare - the protection against the Evil Eye is one of my favorites.
You've likely seen the painted, blue glass "mati" in the form of jewelry, painted on mugs or even clothing. The cultural belief - both in Greece and other cultures (in Pakistani, it's called 'nazor') - is that you wear this charm around your neck, or even pinned to baby's clothing, to protect from the Evil Eye.
It isn't just cultural either - in the Greek Orthodox religion, there's a specific prayer called Vaskania to help those who are thought to have suffered from the Evil Eye.
No matter if you believe in the Evil Eye or not, it doesn't hurt to surround yourself with protection. And, as the Greeks say: "If you open your heart, you will find both strength and humility - and the evil eye cannot affect you."
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