Tag Archives: Olympia

The Olympics: Invented by the Greeks

5 Aug

Ancient Olympics Nikolopoulos

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!

 

 

 

 

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Photographs from the Olympics in Greece

9 Aug

 

 

 

 

I couldn’t pass up going to the Olympics when they were held in Athens in 2004.  At last, the Olympic Games were back where they began!  The men’s and women’s shot put tournament were even held in Olympia, the original site of the Olympics.  The rest of the games were in Athens, which had been completely revamped and upgraded with insanely gorgeous stadiums.  Unfortunately, because of the slow rate of construction there was a lot of fuss in the media about whether the Greeks could get it done in time.  The condescending attitude seemed kind of ironic, considering the Greeks invented the tradition of the Olympics and preserved the ancient site.  Between that and it being the first Olympics since 9/11, there weren’t as many people there as expected.  It was too bad because the Olympic Village that they created especially for the 2004 Athens Olympics was one of the most gorgeous modern venues I’ve ever had the experience of being in.  My friend and I got great seats to our chosen event — men’s swimming 😉

 

Have you ever been to the Olympics?  Which sports would you most want to watch in person?

 

Photographs from My Trip to the Ancient Olympics

6 Aug

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you watching the Olympics right now?

My family lives close to where the very first Olympics were held — the Olympic games began in 776 BC in Olympia, which is in the Peleponnesus in Greece — so over the years, I’ve visited Olympia more times than I could possibly count.  Even though I’m probably one of the least athletic people on the entire planet and couldn’t care less about watching any of the Olympic games, I still love going to site of where the Olympics all began.

What’s so fun about Olympia, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is that you can actually walk right up to the incredible stone columns.  You’re essentially treading the same path as the ancient Olympians.  My father always insists that we run the stadium, and since I love to ham it up for the camera, we end up with lots of silly pictures like the above.  Through this tradition, he’s been able to capture me growing up through the lens of the Ancient Olympics.

If you’re planning a trip to Olympia, Greece, you may find this site helpful.

 

Does your family have a tradition of taking annual photos anywhere unique?

 

A Greek Bedroom Inspired by Nature

13 Oct

When my dad started building his dream house in Greece, I was in middle school in New Jersey.  It was the early ‘90s, and the Body Shop and Calvin Klein and Kate Moss were ushering in an era of natural beauty.  Simplicity was the backlash against an era of neon and shoulder pads.  I abandoned my hot-pink biker shorts and oversized Hypercolor t-shirts for a more natural beauty aesthetic that seeped its way into my plans for the bedroom I’d have in Greece.

Our new house was being built in an olive grove by the ocean, and I wanted to embrace an organic look for my bedroom.  I wanted to keep the walls and the bedspread as white as the walls of a white-washed Greek church.  I wanted only a few little green leaf accents and bamboo curtains to echo the call of nature.

When I saw This Is Glamorous’ post “Wicker & White and Summer Delights,” it immediately brought me back to the inspiration for my bedroom all those years ago.  Wicker baskets hold fresh, white laundry.  A bowl of pretty starfish brings the ocean inside.  A pretty white sundress looks like the kind I’d find in one of the many shops near Olympia.  There’s even a photograph of waffles, the dessert we often get after dinner in Greece.