Greek good luck charms, known as gouria, are a steadfast part of Greek culture existing since ancient times. With the New Year, their value is even more prevalent.
Greek Good Luck Charms
The word gouri has two meanings: good luck and good luck charm. Gouria is the plural Greek version of the word. What these little objects and traditions offer is simply the belief that luck and good things will happen.
Every culture has some sort of familiar talisman, anything that is believed to bring good luck. Most religions from the beginning of time have associated objects with the power to offer good fortune, many times shrouded in mystery. In fact, the word talisman comes from the Arabic word tilasm and the Greek talein, both translating to initiation into the mysteries. Some popular examples are birthstones, four-leaf clovers, crosses, pentagons and gemstones of a zodiac.
Gouri and the New Year
During the winter holidays in Greece, gouria can be spotted almost anyplace including in a home, a car, a business, at hotels and as part of interior decoration. These New Year lucky charms also come in the form of creative jewelry and gifts. Bracelets, pendants, keychains and hanging art are decorated with ribbon, string, beads and other creative materials.
All gouria are centered around certain charms that have come to represent the New Year. The most popular charms are the pomegranate, onion, the evil eye, the round coin and the boat.
Here’s a rundown of what each one represents:
- Pomegranate – The pomegranate is a symbol of fertility and abundance. The custom of breaking pomegranates inside of a new home for good luck dates back to ancient Greece. Today, many people break a pomegranate to start the year off on a positive note.
- Onion – The onion is the most resilient of roots, surviving in most weather conditions. As a result, it has come to represent vitality.
- Evil Eye – The mati or evil eye is another popular symbol. Many Greeks believe that by wearing or displaying a mati, which comes in the form of blue eye charms or blue beads, bad intentions can be reflected away.
- Coin – The circular coin is another symbolic piece of luck. One of the classic Greek traditions is baking a small coin inside of a vasilopita, a cake made and cut for the New Year. The person who receives the piece with the coin inside is said to have luck for the year.
- Boat – In Greece, a country with a rich maritime history and culture, the boat has come to symbolize many positive things in life including hope and good travels.
More Lucky Greek Symbols
Other lucky Greek symbols that you may notice on a gouri include the olive branch which is a symbol peace and protection. The olive wreath is another symbol. Ancient Greek athletes were crowned with wild olive wreaths called kotinos, a symbol of glory and success. Like in the Celtic culture, four-leaf clovers are considered good luck.
These everlasting symbols in combination with today’s artisan craftsmanship and beautiful materials equate to a plethora of amazing handmade gouria collections. Especially in the New Year, they are a much welcome symbol of good times to come.
Have you ever spotted a gouri or gouria in your travels throughout Greece? Do you have a favorite lucky charm?