ευπρόσδεκτος Greek history spans centuries. It is usually divided into 2 stages, the history of ancient Greece and the history of Modern Greece. Greece is a welcoming country, with a warm, friendly population. The people of Greece share a common language, Greek, and a common religion, Greek Orthodox (Christianity). Religious holidays hold great importance for the Greeks, who devote much time and energy to their celebrations. These celebrations include traditional Greek Food. Kourabiethes are traditional Greek celebration cookies served at Christmas, weddings, baptisms, and other special occasions. The Greeks enjoy singing and dancing, large family gatherings and storytelling. Traditional Greek celebrations are often occasions for traditional Greek dress and folk dances, which everyone encouraged to participate in. Greek cooking has a rich and varied past. Through the centuries, different groups of people who have travelled through Greece have brought foods like lamb, beans, olives, grapes, pasta, yogurt, coffee, and fruits. A number of foods are basic to Greek cooking. Greek cooks make liberal use of lemon juice, tomatoes, green peppers, and garlic. Avgolemono is one of the most popular Greek sauces, made from egg yolks and lemon juice. The Greeks use it to flavor soups and stews. They serve it with fish and vegetables too. Greek cooks use many herbs and spices to bring out the natural flavors of lamb, fish, and vegetables. The most common include cinnamon, basil, dill, bay leaves, garlic, and oregano. The Greeks serve eggplant as a side dish or add it to main dishes. Moussaka (pictured) is made by layering slices of eggplant, ground lamb, and cheese. Sheep have been raised in Greece since prehistoric times. Greek cooks roast lamb whole, or thread it onto skewers and broil it. A seven-week fast characterizes the Lenten season in Greece. When this fast is broken, lamb is served as mayeritsa (pictured). Mayeritsa is the internal organs of the lamb cooked in a seasoned broth. Early the next morning, the rest of the lamb is roasted whole and served for Easter dinner. Because of Greece’s location, seafood is an important part of the Greek diet. Greek cooks prepare freshly caught seafood simply by baking or broiling it. Squid is particularly popular. Taramasalata (pictured) is a pinkish pate made from fish eggs Olives grow in abundance in Greece. Their many sizes, shapes, and colors often amaze people in the US. The flavor of olive oil dominates Greek cuisine. People throughout Greece eat olives as an appetizer or snack. Olives are also popular on salads such as the popular salata horiatiki. Greek honey is world famous. The writings of Aristotle describe the different types of honey that were available in ancient Greece. Greeks use honey to sweeten many of their desserts, including melamacarons (honey cakes) and Baklava, which is a dessert made with phyllo dough. Phyllo dough is a paper-thin pastry made from flour and water. Some Greek cooks still make phyllo, but it is very time consuming and available readymade.