What are some Greek folklore stories?

By: | Post date: 2016-10-20 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Culture, Modern Greek

Category:Greek fairy tales – Wikipedia

Category:Greek folklore – Wikipedia

That’s a start.

We’ve got Christmas goblins (kalikantzaros), we’ve got vampires (vrykolakas), we’ve got mermaids (gorgona). Fairy tales involve, interchangeably, fairies (neraida), ogres (drakos), and black men (arapis). And saints.

My favourite fairy tale rather incongruously involves Jesus Christ. The Blessed Card Deck, from Kephallonia.

Let me summarise.


Once there was a card shark. He gets a knock on the door one night. It’s Jesus Christ.

“Mind if I spend the night?”

“Nah, that’s cool. Come on in!”

In he comes. The twelve disciples right after him.

“Oh. All… right then…”

And he entertains them with all the hospitality a Greek would muster for 13 people at the last minute.

The next morning, Christ heads off, and he tells the guy:

“Thanks, man. Three wishes.”

“Hm. OK, fairy tale logic applies, right?”

“Natch.”

“OK… so what do I want…”

St Peter prompts him: “Immediate admission into Paradise.”

“OK, I want a Magical Card Deck that never loses.”

“Done.”

St Peter prompts him: “Immediate admission into Paradise.”

“Magic Pear Tree, that people get stuck to until I say otherwise.”

“Done.”

St Peter glares at him.

“Oh, OK, and that immediate admission thing, what the guy with the key said.”

“Done.”

The card shark has a long successful career of winning at cards. Until one day, the Angel of Death rocks up.

“Oy. Time’s up.”

“Oh. Yeah, cool. Listen, I’m in the middle of a card game right now. In the meantime, how about you go out the back, and help yourself to some pears.”

“Thanks, man!”

So he plays on for another few decades, until he finally gets bored, and he goes out the back to the pear tree.

“OK, Angel of Death. Let’s go.”

The peeved Angel of Death leads him along. On the way, the card shark accosts various randoms, and plays cards with them. If they lose, they have to follow him.

By the time he gets to the Pearly Gates, he’s got 12 randoms tagging along.

“Hey! It’s the key guy!”

“What the hell?! Who are these people?”

Christ comes out to see what the fuss is.

“You know, I only granted you immediate admission into Paradise. I didn’t say You And Guests.”

“Yeah, well you rocked up with 12 guys, and I didn’t complain, did I?”

“Oh. Fair enough. Come on in!”

(Much, much chattier original text: Σκιαδαρέσης, Σ. 1951. Η βλοημένη τράπουλα. Mélanges offerts à Octave et Melpo Merlier. Athènes: Institut Français d’Athènes. 2:379–395.)

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