‘OPA’ is a lover’s Greek Word for expressing joy, but also flexible enough to use anytime you just feel like saying hi, hey, or oops.
The Greek Festival in Salt Lake City is a three day event that celebrates their culture, traditions, and heritage, but we go for the Greek food and dancing. We joined over 50,000 people that attended their 39th annual celebration of being Philhellenes – lovers of all things Greek!
Are you old enough to remember the movie, Zorba the Greek? Naturally this is a popular favorite and I can’t help but hum along when they perform this dance.
Each dance tells a story passed down through generations about ancient wars, courtship, or physical prowess. The ancient Zembekikos dance, involves trying not to knock over a glass set on the floor. If the dancer succeeds, he can drink what wasn’t spilled from the glass.
The Mihanikos, tells a story about how the dancer remembers his youth and love of sponge diving off the Aegean Island Kalymnos. It begins with a fast, high-spirited beat and then slows down as the dancer needs a cane. The sponge divers became crippled due to the “bends disease” from years of diving, and is retold in this dancers story.
The Hellenic Cultural Museum has gathered its people’s life stories in photos, clothing and many personal artifacts. Greek immigrants came to Salt Lake City in the early 1900’s when mining and railroading were booming industries.
Young sons were sent off to America, where there were plenty of jobs. The hope was for their sons to make enough money, so they could return in a few years. The mining casualties tell a tragic story of families still living in Greece and unable to personally bury their sons.
Greek coffee is an artistic production in itself. In a briki pot, he adds 2 teaspoons of Greek (or Turkish) coffee, a cup of water and then stirs in 2 teaspoons of sugar.
He explained how the coffee is slowly heated up until the surface starts to tremble. Once it starts foaming, he lifts the briki slightly from the heat until the foam settles and then is put back on the fire to let it start foaming again.
He said this step is very important to getting a good cup of coffee. He advised us to sip the coffee slowly to enjoy the robust flavor. Considering how hot this drink is, sipping is the only safe way to enjoy it. Drinking the coffee grounds at the bottom of the cup is really gross and not advised.
I found a Zumba coin scarf in their shopping center and felt this justified eating a Baklava dessert. We learned more about the Greek faith from the guides inside the church. This stained glass window depicting the resurrection was colorfully striking in the afternoon sun.