When I met my Greek-American husband-to-be in 1965, everything from the food he ate to the church services seemed foreign. One of our first dates was at a small Geek nightclub in Seattle, pulsing with exotic bouzouki music. We nibbled on unidentifiable tidbits and drank a strange wine call retsina. When we became engaged in 1966, I wanted a book to grasp the basics of Greek-American living. Such a book did not exist, so my early years of marriage required considerable adjustment for a Lutheran girl from Spokane, Washington, of French and English descent. Over time, however, I began to love many aspects of Greek-American life: the closeness of the family, the reference in Orthodox worship, The Iliad, 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. Research included gathering oral histories from a group of American women born and raised in Greece and Constantinople as well as additional studies and interviews.

After publication of the book many interesting opportunities opened up: participating on the Archdiocesan Council of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and its interfaith marriage committee, editing books such as Remembering and Reclaiming Diakonia and Bartholomew: Apostle and Visionary (by John Chryssavgis) and co-authoring three children’s books: St. Anthony the Great (with John Chryssavgis), Peter Clashes with Anger and Eleni Looks at Jealousy (with Jeanette Aydelette). In addition, it has been my privilege to serve on the boards of the Holy Land Christian Society and Churches for Middle East Peace. Most importantly our two children, Larry (Eleftherios ) and Mary (named after my husband’s parents as promised while we were dating) have married and blessed us with four grandchildren, all living near our home in Virginia.

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 not born into this heritage, I say, “Welcome.” This book will explain that the Orthodox Christian message of love embraces you with 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. In this spirit, everyone is invited to celebrate these remarkable customs and traditions.

-- Marilyn Rouvelas