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Yia-Yias - The Grandmother of Greece

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Definition: Yia-yia is an affectionate name for "Grandmother" in Greece. The yia-yia or grandmother is a common figure in Greece, whether she's gathering herbs along the highway or ruling over a kitchen at home. Since many older women are widowed, they are often seen wearing black or dark colors. Sometimes the yia-yia will have adopted mourning clothing to commemorate the death of another family member, such as her own parent, particularly her father, or a deceased child.

Nia Vardalos' comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding
has a memorable "yia-yia" character, the aging grandmother who keeps escaping from the house and fearing an invasion of Turks.

The male equivalent is "Papu" or grandfather - often seen twirling worry beads while sitting at a cafenion in the village square. Yia-yias are more likely to be enjoying the same coffee experience in a friend or relative's kitchen, away from the noise and dust of the street.

Yia-yias are getting some attention in this series of ads for Athenos: "Yia-Yia Approved" - and not much is approved by the average yia-yia. Be sure to read the comments as many readers recall their own beloved "yia-yias", both Greek and otherwise.

Pronunciation: yah-yah
Also Known As: granny, crone
Alternate Spellings: gia-gia
Common Misspellings: ya-ya
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