Evil eye: the symbolic meaning of κακό μάτι in Greek

The symbolic meaning of the evil eye (κακό μάτι) in Greek

Since old times, it’s common in Greece that when women give birth to a newborn, their mothers tell them to ‘put an eye (μάτι)‘ on them, to protect them from the envious eyes of strangers. And these grandmothers also wear amulets with eyes themselves, to make sure they’re protected from harm.


All the misfortunes like illnesses or accidents would be attributed to a curse. When someone would ask out loud why bad things always happen to themselves, the answer would be: the evil eye (κακό μάτι).


The eye has been an important symbolic character for many people for many years. The first record of an eye appears to be found painted on clay objects in Mesopotamia about 5.000 years ago. The eye as a symbol was adopted by Christian as well as Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu societies. And in each society it may have a different name, but for all people it has the same symbolic meaning and serves the same purpose: protection from evil (το κακό).


For centuries now, eyes (ματάκια) have been one of the most popular objects on amulets, because they are considered to have the ability to protect the person who wears them – especially in Greece, but also in other countries. Wearing an eyelet (ματάκι) is also seen as a way to attract love, happiness and success.


In recent years, the eye has evolved into one of the hottest trends in fashion. This ancient symbol of a simple amulet gradually became an inspiration for the most famous brands. Famous designers created clothes, shoes and accessories where the eye has a leading role.


Τhe eyelet matches everyone’s look, while also serving its deeper purpose… to keep the evil eyes (κακά βλέμματα) away.


This blog was written by our Greek teacher Stefania.


PS: the Greek word μάτια (eye) has many other meanings, like αυγά μάτια (fried egg) and μάτια κουζίνας (stove). And when someone says μάτια μου it literally means “my eyes”, but it refers to “my love”. Check out our Spotify account to listen to songs about μάτια! And do you already follow our Greek Instagram account?

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