Ethnic Clothes: Greek Boys


Figure 1.--American boys dress in Greek kilts for Greek festivals and celebrations. This boy is participating in the New York Greek Day parade down 5th Avenue.

A kilt like costume was worn mainly in the central and southern regions of Greece. The costume derives its name from the pleated white skirt (foustanela) made of many triangular shaped pieces of cloth sewn together diagonally. The foustanela was worn by the Greek fighters of the 1821 revolution and today it serves as the official uniform of the Evzones, Greece’s Presidential Guard, who can be seen guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens. The foustanela skirt consists of 400 pleats symbolizing the years during which Greece was under Ottoman rule. The remainder of the costume is composed of a white shirt with very wide flowing sleeves, an embroidered woolen vest, a sash worn around the waist, and shoes (tsarouhia) with large pompons. We note ethnic events both in Greece and other countries where Greeks live, such as America. We also have some personal experiences from Greek boys concerning ethnic costuming.

Ethnic Costumes

A kilt like costume was worn mainly in the central and southern regions of Greece. The costume derives its name from the pleated white skirt (foustanela) made of many triangular shaped pieces of cloth sewn together diagonally. The foustanela was worn by the Greek fighters of the 1821 revolution and today it serves as the official uniform of the Evzones, Greece’s Presidential Guard, who can be seen guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens. The foustanela skirt consists of 400 pleats symbolizing the years during which Greece was under Ottoman rule. The remainder of the costume is composed of a white shirt with very wide flowing sleeves, an embroidered woolen vest, a sash worn around the waist, and shoes (tsarouhia) with large pompons.

Ethnic Events

We note ethnic events both in Greece and other countries where Greeks live, such as America. Some parents dress their little boys (no oder than 9) in the Greek kilt (foustanela) for the celebrations of independence day (March 25). It once was very popular in school to make a small theatrical presentation with the boys dressed in kilts until about the 1980s. Nowdays there is a trend of boys and girls to learn traditional dances. Greek Americans like other ethnic groups have become fascinated with their heritage. Greek ethnic events in America are primarily sponosored by Greek Orthadox churches and the schools they maintain. Each Greek Orthadox church in America stages annual events such as Greek Festivals in which activities such as Greek dance is highlighted. Often the Children dress up in traditional costumes for the dancing and other events. There are also Greek Day parades honoring Greek Independnce (March) in major U.S. cities. There are also events in other countries, but we do not yet know much about them.

Personal Experiences

I paticipated in Greek events as a Greek American. I was around 8 or 9 years old when I wore the Evzones costume or foustanela at our Greek Independence day celebration. It amounted to a short white pleated kilt. I wore white cotton tights with it. I wasn't too keen about the idea. However, there were a good number of boys my age and older also in the Evzone kilts, so I went along with it. Anyway my mother would have insisted on it even if I had objected. This was the only time I wore an Evzone costume. There were many boys and young adults wearing this costume. The young men were tall andmasculine and in the Greek traditions were fighters. Just like theScots, you didn't want to mess with them. I had to to give a poem aboutthe days when the Greeks were subjugated by the Turks of the OttomanEmpire. It was about the light of the mopn showing me the path to go toGreek school. Apparently, the Turks prohibited the schooling of childrenin Greek and their culture. The schooling was done in the evening andGreece is very mountainous and the pathways were not a paved road. I canremember the first verse, in literal translation it said: "Oh moon ohmoon, show me the pathway to school". I had to say this on a stage infront of several hundred in the auditorium. Actually that was what I was most concerned about. I was more worried about forgetting my poem which I had to say in Greek. Also, I was thinking about that big audience.

I remember our Greek events here in America. There were Greek dances, both ring and couples. The best part the celebration was the food anddeserts after the program. There were some great cooks, or better yetmaster chefs that knew their trade. That I always can remember.The only displeasure I had about wearing the foustanela was when weparked the car and had to walk about a block to the auditorium; however,I saw other older boys and young men walking in the same direction, so Iwas in good company.






HBC





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Created: September 9, 1998
Last updated: 5:20 AM 1/17/2010