We Greeks like to claim we invented just about everything.
The most famous? We invented democracy.
If you’ve watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding — 1 or 2 — you know that Greeks invented any word you can think of. This is not an exaggeration. I grew up hearing my father explain to me the Greek root to English words all … the … time.
We even invented cheesecake.
And, we invented the Olympics.
You’re welcome, by the way.
Today is opening ceremonies for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It’s always an exciting event, with a lot of intense political and social history.
I had the amazing experience of attending the Summer Olympics when they were in Athens, Greece! You can see a few photos from that trip here.
I’ve also been several time to the site of the Ancient Olympics. The first Olympics were held in Olympia, Greece. This happens to be on the Peloponnese peninsula where my father grew up, so I grew up visiting there and then as an adult brought my own friends there. You can see my Ancient Greek Olympics photographs from over the years here.
The Greeks invented the Olympics in the 8th century BC to celebrate the mythological Greek god Zeus. Consequently, they were not just about athletics but were highly religious: there were two temples and an altar built. During Antiquity, the games were held every four years. The Olympic games were opened up to all citizens of the Roman Empire during the Roman rule. The games were held until Theodosius I, a Christian emperor of the Roman Empire, banned the pagan rituals of the Olympic games in the 4th century AD. After him, Theodosius II had the temple to Zeus destroyed. For details on the Ancient Greek Olympics, read up here.
For the official modern-day Olympics, visit the Olympics website.
Sometimes it’s fun to think of what Olympic games I’d invent if I were in charge of the games today. Here are my picks:
- Olive wreath crown-making
- Subway turnstile hurdling
- Best personal essay about gym class
- Speed typing
- Freestyle walking
Go, team, go!