People and Lifestyle

 The population is about 635.000 people, out of which half is living in main cities and towns and the other half in rural communities. Wild Cretan terrain, Greek Orthodox faith, and the glorious past in which their forefathers fought in solidarity and courage for their land and freedom are the foundation of the personality of the Cretan people.

 Cretans are proud, but they are friendly, kind, and creative, they like to socialize and have a sense of humor. In the taverns and restaurants in certain areas of Crete, a common practice that shows the generosity and hospitality of the locals are the complimentary desserts or fresh fruits, together with raki, the traditional digestive spirit, offered at the end of the meal. You may get some extra goodies from the house if it happens to be among the last customers in a bakery or pastry shop. Also, don’t be surprised if you see little bags of food hanging on fences, walls, or shops doors, because this is the way that people care for the less fortunate and hungry. Cretans are ready to help you in any way they can.

 Not forgetting their rural roots, Cretan people love gardening and, even if they live in a city apartment, they surround themselves with flowers and houseplants. They also love pets, but definitely, their favorite one is the cat, because of its therapeutic influence for humans and sanitary benefit for the environment, as they keep the rats, mice, and cockroaches away from the house, yard and neighborhood. Even the holiday hotels set some special places called ”cats cafĂ©”, where tourists can feed and play with these friendly and funny domestic animals.

 Family and social connections are very important to them. Social interaction means emotional and mental "wellbeing". Young people usually go out for a walk in the evening with friends, and the elderly who respect their habits gather at the cafe or relax in the sun on a bench in front of the house. It is also a common thing in Crete that shops close for a few hours in the afternoon, because people love to cook at home, eat with family members and have a snap, before going back to their work. You will find plenty of shops and taverns with a family photo gallery in one corner, given that transgenerational passions or occupations have turned into what is now a family business.

 Greeks and Cretans are generally conservative and baptize their children by giving them grandparents' first names, to keep their memory alive.  As for a nation with genes of artists and philosophers, sometimes their given names - ”onoma” - descend from mythic gods and heroes, like  Athena, Aphrodite, Artemis, Hercules, Odysseus, or bear beautiful spiritual meanings, for instance, Zoe (Life), Agapi (Love), Irini (Peace), Sofia (Wisdom), Eleftheria (Freedom), Chara (Joy), Athanasia (Immortality), Fotini (Little light), Philoxenia (Hospitality), Theodorus (Gift of God).

 Real Cretans speak Greek with a heavy Cretan accent and it's not exactly what would be called a "dialect” but rather a regional language. The way you greet Cretans when you meet them is just smiling and saying "kalimera = good morning", "kalispera = good afternoon" – used also for the rest of the day, or "yasas = hello". If you want to thank them, then "efharisto = thank you" is the right word to which they will reply with ”parakalo = you’re welcome”. ”Poli nostimo” means ”very tasteful” and ”Poli oreo/orea” is the expression for ”very nice”.  When drinking with Cretan, you wish ”yammas = cheers” – with the meaning of ”stay healthy”, and before going to bed you say ”kalinichta = good night”.

 Strongly anchored in their Christian spirituality and patriotic feelings, Crete inhabitants have gathered across history a rich heritage of traditions and holidays, through which they celebrate life and its major events. Christmas Holiday, Easter Holiday, preceded by the Lenten CarnivalThe Good Friday Epitaph, and the Night of Resurrection, the Independence Day” on March 25th and the National Day of Greece on October 28th are the most notable in the calendar of national holidays. 

 Crete is the island of the free, creative spirit. The artistic talent, in any form, is part of the Cretan DNA and it is no wonder that the island is full of artists and their works. From the museums, memorial houses, and cultural centers, to the workshops, boutiques, art galleries, and even to the small stalls of street artisans, the bohemian lifestyle of Cretans is continuously entertaining for the art and cultural events lovers.

 Cretans are cheerful and party people, and if you want to feel their spirit and enjoy a good time with them, in case you have the chance, don`t miss a show, a festival, a feast in a city, or at least a Greek Night Show at a traditional tavern! The strong connection between ancient traditions, habits, and lifestyle, keep the people of Crete in a more cohesive and vivid society.