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Everyone is Greek At The San Jose Greek Festival

By Pamela Sosnowski

Every weekend after Memorial Day, thousands of people of all ages descend upon San Jose to partake in the annual San Jose Greek Festival, a celebration of food, music, dancing, and festivities in the Greek culture. Of course, you don't have to actually be Greek to appreciate the jovial atmosphere.

"The festival is for those who are not Greek, so they should especially attend," Maria T., the festival's Social Media Manager, said. "Our slogan is come be Greek for a day, and we truly mean it. 'Philoxenia' is the Greek word for 'friend to a stranger', and it is an incredible virtue in our culture, going back to ancient times. Hospitality to those you do not know is a huge piece of our heritage and this festival is our way of showing it."

The festival takes place on the grounds of Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, one of the oldest Greek churches in the San Jose community. Of course, one of the favorite parts of the festival by attendees is the mouth-watering selection of homemade Greek food, using authentic recipes.

Greek cuisine stretches back over 4,000 years, and there's no end to the staples you'll find for sale at the festival, which include moussaka, lamb shanks, spanakopites (spinach, feta cheese, and herbs wrapped in filo pastry), calamari, Athenian salad, and so much more.

"Whether you're a vegetarian or you love lamb the options are endless and incredible," Maria said. "Our homemade authentic desserts are just as delicious for those that have a sweet tooth."

There's also plenty of specialty drinks--both alcoholic and non-alcoholic--and wine on hand to chase the delicious food down. There's plenty of ouzo, the clear anise-flavored that Greece is known for, and loux, a refreshing non-alcoholic soda made of carbonated orange and lemon soda. Greek coffee, Greek frappes, and a selection of Greek beers are also on tap.

Festival organizers take pride in the fact that the event is very family-friendly and safe, with something for everyone.

"There is the agora area with shops of local artisans selling handmade jewelry and other items, Mythos, a live Greek music band, is playing throughout the day so you can try to learn Greek dancing as well," Maria said. "You can view our Hellenic Heritage museum to learn more about Greek culture, and enjoy authentic Greek dancing from award winning dance groups. These are just a handful of activities that our festival provides for our guests." For the littlest guests, there's an entire booth dedicated to children's games and activities, and a fun photo backdrop for kids to pose in front of. There is also a Greek dancing performance just for children.

It's pretty much guaranteed that the festival will have everyone shouting "Opa!" by the end of the day.

"The Greek Festival was started to share our culture with the San Jose community," Maria said. "We love the idea of sharing our food, music, and dancing with people who have never experienced our heritage before. We want our visitors to come and be Greek for a day."

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About The Author

Pamela Sosnowski is a freelance writer, social media manager, contributor for REBEAT...

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