«Ftou ftou ftou!» Why Greeks might «spit» on you

13 December 2019

Greece together with Latvia, are in the first place in Europe regarding a «peculiar» custom.

The 66% of the inhabitants of the 2 countries believe in the «evil eye»!

by Kristallenia Gavriilidou

The two countries are followed by Ukraine with 60%, Armenia 59%, Moldavia 57%, Russia 56%, Bulgaria 55%, then Romania with 44% and Serbia 41% while, quite lower rates are found in Scandinavian countries and specifically, Sweden and Denmark with 9%.

What is the «evil eye» or in greek: «matiasma» or «vaskania»?

«Matiasma» is called the belief that someone is possible to be affected negatively because of another’s envy or by just a gaze (could be unintentionally as well). This «process» above, as well as the recommended ways to deal with it, varies from one place to another.

In the wide are of Aegean and in areas where there are not many people with light-colored eyes, is considered that light-colored eyes have a bigger «evil eye» (or «matiasma») effect (or «power»). This belief is explained by the fact that people from societies where the conviction in «matiasma» was not so spread, possibly did not keep local traditions like not to gaze at a stranger’s eyes. For that so, in Greece and in Turkey, the amulets that have the ability to protect from the «evil eye», are shaped like blue eyes.

Ancient Greeks believed in the «evil eye» and searched various means for the neutralization of its «energy» that can are found below (greek names): “vaskania”, “provaskania”, “apotropaia”, “fylaktiria”, “egkolpia”, “telesmata”.

Today people use the technique of «xematiasma» (to repel the «evil eye») and turn to their family (basically mothers and grandmothers) so that they do the «xematiasma» on them (they pray above a small cup of water & oil)! So don’t be surprised if you hear the expressions:

  • «Ftou ftou skorda(garlic)!»
  • «Ftou ftou mi se matiaso!»: Because someone is so cute/pretty/clever etc. the other «spits» on him/her in order not to «apply» the evil eye on him/her.
  • «Mati ine!»/«Se matiasan!»(that’s evil eye): it is bad energy and someone put an evil eye on you. So just say «ftou ftou» in order to avoid it!