In Greece, the evil eye is trending – National Catholic Reporter

Posted: Saturday, September 23, 2017

The booming popularity appears to reflect a growing interest in New Age spirituality as well as the psychological toll of Greece’s ongoing debt crisis.

Though the cerulean blue charm is still the most traditional, today you’ll find variations in pink and even multicolored bracelets for kids. The charms are most popular among Egyptians, Spaniards and American girls, sellers said.

Myrto Dafne’s family has run Duende souvenir shop on Ifestou Street since 1895. Their store has a modest display of mati keychains and medallions. Most tourists she encounters don’t know what the symbol means.

Dafne tells them: “’It’s superstitious, it’s supposed to bring luck.’ So they get excited about it.”

Nearby, Nichole Mollman, a high school art teacher from Panama City, Fla., browses for mati charms with some co-workers. They’ve brought a group of students to Athens for a school trip. “I’m like a spiritual, karma, what-goes-around-comes-around” type of person, she said. “For me, the evil eye is a preventer of evil energy.”

Though she comes from a long line of Roman Catholics, Mollman will soon become the first in her family not to get married in the church. She said the surging popularity of the evil eye reflects a cultural shift toward alternative beliefs.

“The evil eye is like the new trendy cross,” she said.

Secular concerns may partly explain the eye’s resurgence now. Since 2009, the Greek financial crisis has decimated the country’s economy. More than a quarter of its citizens are now unemployed, and half of Greek youth lack jobs.

In such times, people often turn to familiar traditions, such as the evil eye, for comfort.

“It’s part of this New Age thing, but also — I think there is some value to these practices. It sort of gives you a sense that you can somehow control the reasons that create stress and anxiety,” said Nadina Christopoulou, a Greek anthropologist who runs a nonprofit organization for refugee women based in Athens.

She cited her mother, who lives alone in the countryside. Since the economic crisis, financial pressures have restricted her ability to extend charity to others. Her mother “claims she gets [the eye] five times a day,” Christopoulou said. Each time, she contacts three different people for support, as well as her daughter.

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