Nightmares? Decoding dreams a national pastime for Greek grandmothers

If you are Greek, there are specific dreams that you are not allowed to have in the opinion of every classic Greek grandma

Yorva Tsiakara
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If you are Greek, there are specific dreams that you are not allowed to have in the opinion of every classic Greek grandma.

Prejudices and superstitions used to be creations of illiteracy, ignorance, insecurity and fear for the people of Greece ages ago. However, although my Greek friends have PhDs and are “citizens of the world,” I still get told off by them for entering a house with my left foot and don’t get me started on my grandmother who tends to “remove the evil eye” off of me every time I visit her! Among the many Greek superstitions we grew up with, there are those related to dreams. And guess what, we have even invented a word for that: “Ονειρομαντεία“, or “dream-guessing” in plain English.

Dream-guessing 101, according to the Greeks

According to the Greek gang of experts - aka my grandma, her cousin and her bestie – who were exclusively interviewed for this piece, dream-guessing is an old habit of, let’s say, more mature people. Dream-guessing is based on the idea that dreams foretell events.

Skeptics believe bad dreams are caused due to excessive stress, alcohol or drug abuse and spicy food. In Greece, different dreams have different meanings depending on the area of the country you are in.
Our Arab friends had, and still have, similar worries and consider specific dreams a bad omen.

The meaning behind dreams, according to my panel

1. Teeth that fall out supposedly warn of the imminent death of a loved one or acquaintance.

2. Dreaming of mud is said to mean a person close to you will fall ill.

3. Dreaming of a horse is seen as a good sign.

4. Conversely, dreaming of a snake is widely seen as meaning you have an enemy.

5. Dreaming of a baby is seen as ominous, meaning bad news is coming your way.

6. Blood apparently signifies bad news you are yet to hear.

7. Dreaming of fish, according to my family, means you will be terrified by something.

8. Dreaming of a person you know to be alive as dead conversely means, according to folklore, they will have a long life.

Of course there are more significant dreams with their own interpretations, common almost all over Greece. Greek people continue to dream, to seek and interpret those messages from the universe and at the end of the day, yiayia (Greek for grandma) knows best.

In the spirit of honesty, I asked my grandmother to remove the “evil eye” from me a few times this week in order to rid myself of a migraine and hey presto, it actually worked. Or, at least, it had the placebo effect.

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