Sep 092014
 

‘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.
Greek Festival Salt Lake City #RetireForTheFunOfIt
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!
Greek Dancers #festival #RetireForTheFunOfIt
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.
Greek Traditional Dance #RetireForTheFunOfIt
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.
Greek Traditional Dance #RetireForTheFunOfIt
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.
Greek Hellenic Museum #RetireForTheFunOfIt
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 #RetireForTheFunOfIt
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.  

Using a fun greeting like Opa brings an unexpected smile. Do you have a favorite greeting?

  62 Responses to “My Greek Lover for a Day – OPA”

  1. That’s a HUGE turnout! The dancing looks great and I’ll bet there were wonderful Greek taste treats there.

    • There really were many favorites like Spanakopita/spinach pie and the Dolmathes/grape leaves. It’s such a treat that I should try making these, but more fun eating them at the festival.

  2. What an interesting festival. We have a lot of Greek immigrants in Australia too. Thinking of all that lovely Greek food makes me hungry and how interesting to read about the Greek method of making coffee. I didn’t know.

    • The coffee tastes strong, but very good when made this way. I suppose the immigrants had to find another country to survive in and went where ever the boat took them.

  3. I always think of Opa as a grandmother but maybe I’m mistaken. Looks like a great way to get a dose of culture.

    • I did some investigating and one source stated: Opa is grandpa in German, but when you and an exclamation mark it becomes Opa! for Greek greeting. How interesting that the same spelling is used in two different languages, although I’m sure there are more similar words around too.

  4. I love authentic Greek food! I would love to go to a Greek Festival. I don’t attempt to make any Greek dishes, I leave it to the professionals 🙂

    • I also haven’t attempted to make the Greek dishes even though I love them so much. I would blow a diet quickly just looking at a baklava.

  5. Neva, you would absolutely love the Folklorama Festival in Winnipeg! It’s held for the first 2 weeks of August, and has approx 45 different cultural pavilions from around the world that highlight the food, drink, dancing, music, and art of each country. The Greek pavilion in indeed one of my favourites! You must come up and visit us sometime!

    • Gosh, I could go around to all the Greek festivals around the world and enjoy them like you do with your love for chocolate. I never seem to get enough of the Greek specialty foods and this would be the way to do it.

  6. 50,000 attendees! Wow! I’ve been to a couple of Greek festivals and they’ve all been great fun. The food is always wonderful and there’s always dancing. What fun, thanks for sharing your story Neva.

    • This festival has grown so huge that we make sure we get there early. This is a very popular event and the people are doing a great job of moving the crowds through efficiently.

  7. Oh we so love everything Greek. . .maybe next year, if not in Greece, we will be here! Great post and great information!!!

    • I would have to learn more Greek dances to wear off all the calories from these Greek dishes. We promised ourselves, between bites, to return to Greece and enjoy the history and beaches.

  8. It looks like a fun and lively festival. Like Doreen, it reminded me of the Greek Pavilion at Folklorama, which is always a fun visit. I love Greek food.

    • This local celebration shows what a community can achieve when they have pride in their ethnic history. They generously give a part of the profit to local organizations as well as their own Greek community.

  9. what a fun day! I would love to go to Greece someday. I love the food!

    • We are hoping to travel to Greece and enjoy the history first hand too. There are so many beautiful cities and monuments to see there.

  10. We have a festival similar to this one twice a year.. i never miss it unless something more important is going on.. My dream is to go to Greece and get there sooner than later.

    • I’m glad you can enjoy this festival in your area too. We are also dreaming about traveling to Greece and experiencing the historical culture first hand.

  11. I’m a little jealous. This looks like so much fun and such a great learning experience.

    • There are Greek Festivals in almost every state and around the world. I hope you will find one in your area too and enjoy this fun event.

  12. That is awesome. My kids would totally love that!

    • This is a fun family event that only comes once a year. I wish we could have this event more often. I guess I’ll need to find some good Greek restaurants in town.

  13. Melbourne, in Australia has the largest Greek population in any city outside of Greece!
    This post well and truly whetted my taste buds for my trip to Athens and the islands next month for Tbex 🙂
    Opa!

    • I didn’t realize that the largest Greek population immigrated to Melbourne. I love interesting facts about people and their heritage.

  14. The Greek Festival in Salt Lake City sounds like a lot of fun. Perhaps someday I’ll be there at the right time to attend.

  15. I absolutely love cultural festivals and this one looked fantastic! I loved learning how they make Greek Coffee. Thanks for sharing!

  16. I guessed that Opa meant grandfather but now I’ve learned one new and important word in Greek to take with me when we travel to Greece, hopefully in 2015! As I love Greek food as well as the movie Zorba the Greek this post whet my appetite for travels to that country. Who knows, maybe our paths will cross there!

    • I had forgotten about Opa/grandpa and Oma/grandma and I am of German heritage (oops/opa). We can’t wait to travel to more places in Greece since I’m a history and food buff. Wouldn’t it be an Opa moment to run into each other there?

  17. We have a Greek friend that has introduced us to some Greek food! One I eat all the time and is a simple Greek breakfast or dessert .

    1/2 cup Greek Yogurt (spread out on plate) (7 proteins)
    1/3 c. Bran (11 carbs) (can use nuts, but more carbs)
    1 or 2 T. honey (30 carbs)
    Put on plate in that order! Simple but so good! 41 carbs total
    I am diabetic and on a low carb diet and this is perfect for any meal of the day. I like it at breakfast.

    • Thanks for the recipe, Karen. I love that the Greek Yogurt is a high protein and macrobiotics product. I’ve been adding fruit instead of honey to cut the carbs and eating it for breakfast too.

  18. Love words like that. Cover so many situations, thanks for the lesson, now I at least know one Greek word. 😉

    • I love to learn about different cultures and gives me a greater appreciation for the country when I visit. Learning a word or two now and then makes me feel a bit more bilingual too.

  19. Interesting culture to learn about. OPA, end of my work day! haha Thanks

    • It is a fun word to say – Opa. You can’t help but smile when you say it. The tradition of breaking plates is something that we didn’t see though.

  20. I learned a new word and I love it. Opa is a fun word to say and does sound joyous. Looks like a wonderful Greel festival in Salt Lake City and I love the photo of the stained glass window.

    • The church is interesting to walk through. The people were so helpful to explain their beliefs, which date back much earlier than most other religions.

  21. I would never have expected such a sizable Greek festival in SLC of all places. This looks like great fun!

    • What is really amazing is how they have worked so hard to keep the crowd flowing quickly. They donate to many groups and this is really a community sharing event that we love to contribute to as well as enjoy their entertainment and food.

  22. Love this post and learning about opa! Made me feel OPA:-)

    • Learning about other cultures and their history feels like touching base with our own generations. Many families in the late 1800’s had to leave their homelands and this is another way of remembering our heritage too.

    • We learn so much by observing different cultures and religions. I’m always interested in the history and food from other countries.

  23. It looks like you learned a lot during this festival and ate a lot of great food. My hubby and I always thought that our newly walking babies trying to keep their balance looked like Greek dancers with their arms up in the air. A cup of Greek coffee (sans grounds) would be wonderful right now. And I never turn down baklava.

    • How funny and true that babies learning to walk look like Greek dancers. We never miss this annual event and would love to visit other area’s Greek festivals too just for the baklava.

  24. I love the sound of ‘opa.’ I will definitely give that a try. When living in Sierra Leone on the West Coast of Africa, I learned a tiny bit of their Creole. I particularly enjoyed their ‘aw di bodi’ greeting. Or, even, ‘aw di go de go?’ It’s wonderful learning fragments of new languages!

  25. That looks like such a fun time. 😀 Thanks for sharing it. I love everything about Greece and last year, fulfilled my lifelong dream of going there. It was incredible! ♥

  26. So much fun! I traveled to and through Greece many years ago and in Athens I got to see a folk dancing group perform. I even got dragged on stage to participate. Thanks for reminding me of good times 🙂

  27. WHo doesn’t love greece! Love this place! Loved your post!

  28. What a fun festival to attend! I have always heard that Turkish coffee is some of the best coffee and now I see why with all that time and care put into it.

    • As strong as the Turkish or Greece coffee is, it isn’t stronger in caffeine. We love this festival and never miss it.

  29. Hi Neva, as you probably noticed I’ve been off the blogosphere for awhile because of my kid. I’m taking some baby steps to see about getting back in the game (or not) and I thought of you. I came over to your blog and see my comment is very delayed to when you posted this a month ago. This was so much fun to read. I have extended family in SLC and have been through there so many times over my life. I never knew about the Greek immigrants so thank you for teaching me something new today. I hope all is well with you and your family and my blessings to all of you always 🙂

    • I hope you can enjoy the memories of Phoenix and continue honoring him with your blog stories. We enjoy the Greek festival in Salt Lake City and go every year.

  30. I love Greek festivals. We have a large Greek community in Halifax, and every year they hold their festival in June. I love the food, the music, and the atmosphere of the entire event. Whenever I am in Halifax in June (not often these days) I make this festival a priority. (Now I am hungry for Greek and music!) 🙂

    • Greek festivals are at the top of my list too for the food, music and ambience. Hope you get to satisfy your hunger for the festival in Halifax soon.

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