I met my Greek-American husband-to-be in 1965, everything
from the food he ate to the church services he attended
seemed foreign to me. One of our first dates was at
a small Greek nightclub in Seattle, pulsing with the
exotic sound of bouzouki music. We nibbled
on unidentifiable tidbits and drank a strange wine
called retsina. When we became engaged in 1966,
I wanted a single book to grasp the basics of Greek-American
living. Such a book did not exist. So my early years
of marriage required considerable adjustment. I had
been raised a Lutheran in Spokane, Washington, and
was of French and English descent. This new culture
mystified me. Over time, however, I began to love
many aspect of Greek-American life: the closeness
of the family, the reverence in Orthodox worship,
reading The Iliad by Homer and relishing Easter
bread and olive oil.
In 1993 I wrote this book to welcome people of non-Greek
ancestry to this rich heritage and help them appreciate
Greek traditions and customs. To my surprise, people
of Greek descent have also found the book useful.
My research included gathering oral histories from
a group of American women of Greek heritage as well
as additional studies and interviews. My B. A. in
history from American University and work at The
Atlantic Monthly magazine, public television and
the Discovery Channel provided useful skills.
My life has been blessed (ptou, ptou-see
p. 202). We have two children, Larry (Eleftherios)
and Mary who were named after my husband's parents
per an oral agreement early in the dating process.
Larry and Mary are married and have given us four
grandchildren. It has also been my privilege to serve
on the Archdiocesan Council of the Greek Orthodox
Archdiocese of America, be involved in its interfaith
marriage project and Center for Family Care at St.
Basil's Academy. I also care deeply about the Holy
Land Christians and help their cause in various ways.
My husband and I enjoy traveling to many parts of
the world, including frequent trips to Greece where
most of my husband's family still lives.
If you decide to buy this book and are
a cradle Greek Orthodox, I hope you will find new
understanding and appreciation of your heritage. For
individuals who were not born into this heritage,
I say, "welcome!" This book will explain
that the Orthodox Christian message embraces you with
love and warmth. The Hellenic tradition invites you
to share its universal heritage. Isocrates, a Greek
orator in the fourth and fifth centuries BC stated
in Panegyrikos (Encomium of Athens): "The
name 'Hellenes' suggests no longer a race, but a way
of thinking, and. . . the title 'Hellenes' is applied
rather to those who share our culture than those who
share our blood."
In this spirit, everyone is invited
to celebrate these remarkable customs and traditions.
-- Marilyn Rouvelas