"My Big Fat Greek Wedding" is one of the most popular movies among Greek-Americans and other Mediterranean cultures alike. It is known for it's comical portrayal of Greek-American life and culture. However, as a Greek-American, I have had numerous people ask me if the film is actually accurate.
The short answer is yes, the film is right on the money. It is important to note, though, that there are some small flaws. Below I will break down some of the common topics I'm asked about.
The Greek Orthodox Church is a major part of Greek life.
A majority of the population in Greece practices Greek Orthodoxy. As a result, when many Greeks moved to the United States, they brought the church with them. In Greece, there are often churches on every street corner. So, it is not surprising that most Greek-Americans practice Greek Orthodoxy. The church also serves as a way to connect Greeks from all across the country. It is especially common to visit the nearest Greek Orthodox Church when traveling to say hello.
"Greeks marry Greeks, to breed more Greeks, to be loud breeding Greek eaters."
This is one of the biggest accuracies in Greek-American life. There are many events throughout middle school, high school, and even college that bring together Greeks from all around the country. Many of these involve the Greek Orthodox Youth of America (GOYA), which is a youth group in each Greek Orthodox church. If you ask anyone, they are bound to know someone who met their current spouse at one of these events. It's just how it happens. And yes, food is a MAJOR part of every gathering.
Yes, it is EXTREMELY common for cousins and extended family to share the same names. In Greek tradition, parents usually name their children after their parents (the child's grandparents). This often includes the first name from one side of the family and the middle name from the other. For example, my dad is named after his grandfather; two of his cousins also have the same name. My mom is named after her grandmother, my brother is named after our grandfathers, and I am named after my two great-grandmothers. So, having cousins named "Nick, Nick, and Nikki" isn't uncommon.
'Grenglish' is a thing.
It is considered normal for Greek-Americans to speak in half-Greek and half-English. This usually happens because we can't think of a certain word in one language, so we say it in the other. Also, this is especially common in people who learned Greek first. For example, my mom was born and raised in Greece. She often will forget an English word and substitute the Greek work in when talking to us.
Yeah, we have weird antiques all around the house.
This is one of the weird things that doesn't really make any sense, but applies to almost every Greek-American. We have all sorts of little decorations and family heirlooms around the house. For example, we have these pots with mythological illustrations on them on top of the fire place. We also have a whole display case for our tinier antiques. They may not be seashell lamps, but they're there.
This is probably the most obvious inaccuracy in the film. No, Greeks do not put Windex on every wound or skin problem. I guess some older Greeks may have home remedies for things that are a little wacky, but I never heard of this one outside of the film. I mean, if it works, it works?
No, I'm not only allowed to marry a Greek boy.
Although some Greek parents can be extremely strict about this one, I'm lucky enough not to have this problem. As seen in the movie, there are some families that will only let their children marry other Greeks. I guess some parents are weird about this because they want their culture to be carried along to future generations. There are also many people I know that aren't forced to marry a Greek, but would prefer it. They say that it's just easier and there is more of a connection.
Sorry, but we don't actually say OPA that often...
I know many Americans think that OPA is an extremely common word to use in many situations. However, I've only ever really heard people use it when Greek dancing, or if a plate breaks. That's about it.
Overall, there are some little inaccuracies in 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding'. However, Nia Vardalos, being Greek herself, knows what she's talking about. So, yes. MBFGW is pretty dang accurate.