Greek people are proud of their culture, and with 97% being Christian Orthodox many of the traditional festivals celebrated today are religious. The Greeks are generally gregarious, generous, and hospitable. Tipping is normally at 10% of the bill. Handshaking is common and frequent. A nod of the head is a negative response.
Greece is relatively homogeneous in linguistic terms, with a large majority of the native population using Greek as their first or only language. The Muslim minority in Thrace speak Turkish, Bulgarian, and Romani. Romani is also spoken by Christian Roma in other parts of the country. Near the northern Greek borders there are some Slavic-speaking groups. These groups identify as ethnically Greek, but are linguistically categorized as Macedonian Slavic. The Jewish community in Greece traditionally spoke Ladino (Judeo-Spanish)- a language maintained by a few thousand speakers today.
97% of Greeks are Christian Orthodox with small Muslim and Jewish communities throughout the country.
In Greece most people are named after a saint, and so they tend to celebrate that saint's "name day" rather than the anniversary of their birth. Many Greeks are also very superstitious regarding the evil eye, or Mati. Many stalls sell protection charms made of blue beads with an eye painted upon it in order to ward off danger. It is considered an insult to wave at someone with an open hand, or nod at someone in greeting.
Food is celebrated in Greece. Appetizers (mezedes) come on small plates and can be shared. Try dolmades (stuffed vine leaves) or a selection of dips such as Tzatziki (yogurt with finely chopped cucumber, garlic, and olive oil), Melitzanosalata (eggplant puree), and Taramosalata (crushed fish eggs). Main dishes generally include meat, Moussaka (potatoes topped with eggplant, onion, minced beef, and bechamel sauce) being the most famous, and kebabs. Seafood dishes, especially on the islands, are recommended. There is a large range of Greek wines to choose from, the most famous being Retsina, a white wine made with pine needle resin. Today's Greek wines are internationally recognized and are frequently awarded wine industry prizes. Local spirits include ouzo, an anise based clear spirit. Coffee is thick and sugary. It is advisable to drink bottled mineral water.