Ever since the beginning, Pittsburgh has been an ethnically diverse city. The steel town was originally settled by Scotch-Irish immigrants, and later attracted a huge number of immigrants from eastern Europe, namely Poland and Germany. But there’s another ethnic group that has had a huge impact on the culture of Pittsburgh—the Greeks. In fact, the Greeks are such an integral part of Pittsburgh culture, the city has also been dubbed “Greekburgh.” And there’s one group in particular that has kept the spirit of Greek culture alive in Pittsburgh.
Founded in 1915, Ypapanti, a Greek Orthodox church in Turtle Creek, PA, has been bringing traditional Greek culture to Pittsburgh for over 30 years. Every year the church holds an annual food and cultural festival. The festival includes traditional Greek cuisine, Greek dancing, a tour of the church, and some craft vendors. As a Pittsburgh resident and someone who loves learning about other cultures, I’ve been going to the Ypapanti festival for nine years now. And I plan on going for as long as I can.
I never expected to fall in love with festivals like this. I’m not Greek, I’m not an Orthodox Christian, and I’m not a Pittsburgh native. But that’s what makes the Ypapanti festival so special. You don’t have to be Greek, or an Orthodox Christian, or a Pittsburgh native to enjoy it. People from all nationalities can enjoy the incredible food, tap their feet to the music, enjoy the dancing, and learn more about the Greek Orthodox faith. It also gives native Pittsburghers a chance to learn about a culture that is often overlooked, given the prominence of the German and Polish communities in the city.
I recommend the Ypapanti Greek festival to anyone who wants to connect with their heritage, learn about another culture, or to anyone who just wants to eat incredible food. To learn more, check out greekburgh.com.