Preserving Herbal Traditions in Greece


As one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, it is no surprise that Greece has an extensive history of using herbs for food and medicine. The rich cultural heritage of Greece includes the medicinal plants gathered from the mountainsides and the home garden. These herbal traditions are, unfortunately, being forgotten with each generation growing older and passing away. The traditions of our grandparents and elders who relied on the land so fervently to sustain their health and livelihood are now replaced with modern conveniences and an unfortunate disconnection from the gifts of the land. These plants, however, are a timeless feature of the Greek landscape and represent our connection to our ancestors, stretching as far back as antiquity, when the ancient Greeks flavored their meals and beverages with the very same herbs. It is therefore essential to capture the relationship our families have with each treasured plant in order to preserve the herbal traditions of a quickly modernizing Greece.

We can preserve these traditions by sharing them with each other. The Preserving Herbal Traditions in Greece Project aims to create an extensive collection of experiences with medicinal and culinary herbs in Greece fully accessible to the public. Oregano, mint, thyme, rosemary, mountain tea, sage- and countless other plants- are the quintessential aromas of Greece that remind us of the richness of our heritage and our deep connection to the country’s beautiful and rugged landscape.

Herbs hung up to dry. Photo by Maria Christodoulou

The Preserving Herbal Traditions in Greece Project is supported by a grant from the Ancient Worlds, Modern Communities initiative of the Society for Classical Studies at New York University. The goal of this initiative is “to engage individuals, groups, and communities in critical discussion of and creative expression related to the ancient Mediterranean, the global reception of Greek and Roman culture, and the history of teaching and scholarship in the field of classical studies.” As a grant recipient of this initiative, Maria Christodoulou created the Preserving Herbal Traditions in Greece Project to engage with those living in Greece and abroad who would like to share how they use the plants of Greece in their daily lives. Maria is a clinical herbalist based in Athens and New York who teaches and writes about herbal medicine in ancient and modern Greece. She also leads herbal tours throughout Greece with a focus on the medicinal, mythical, and magical qualities of the trees, flowers, and herbs celebrated since antiquity.

Participation in the Preserving Herbal Traditions in Greece Project is free and open to the public. Do you live in Greece or have relatives who live in Greece? Submit your herbal recipes, natural remedies, or healing experiences with local herbs on The Greek Herbalist website. Submissions will be reviewed, edited, and added to a public online collection of Greek herbs and their traditional uses. Your first name, location, and herbal recipe will be shared publicly. Each submission is an important contribution in preserving one of the most treasured aspects of Greek culture. Your submission helps keep these traditions alive.

Submissions can be made on The Greek Herbalist website at:

https://www.thegreekherbalist.com/preserving-herbal-traditions-greece.

For more information, visit The Greek Herbalist website: www.thegreekherbalist.com or contact Maria Christodoulou at maria@thegreekherbalist.com.

 



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