Gift & Bridal Shops

To the Greek community, gift and bridal shops are a huge aspect to commerce as they combine a tourist’s demand for Greek items, with the Greek community’s demand for bridal related gifts and items as well. Passing and walking in a few gift shops, such as Hellenic Gifts has showed me how big weddings and knick knacks are to the Greek culture. With Greek culture placing such an importance on family and relationships, Greek weddings are a huge part of the celebration and commencement of life! In Astoria, the need for wedding commerce is filled by the Greek niche as they capitalize on the great demand for bridal arrangement, dresses, etc. Hellenic Gifts in Astoria sells various cultural items that are extremely useful and important in perpetuating the ideals of the Greek tradition of Orthodox weddings such as wedding candles that symbolize the oil lamps of the 5 wise maidens in the Parable of the Ten Maidens in the Gospel of Matthew. Also the Stéfana, or wedding crowns are sold for the wedding, as they symbolize the union and partnership between the groom and bride that is bestowed upon by God’s glory and honor. The sacrament of marriage in the Orthodox Greek community and religion allows for the commerce of these shops to expand and economically prosper, ultimately helping out and contributing to Astoria’s well being1 .

These shops also sell little Greek knick knacks for tourists and Greeks alike who want to indulge in traditional Greek cultural items such as board games and coffee pots. Greek coffee pots, or Brikis, are in demand and important to the culture of Astoria and Greece as it plays an important role in the tradition of brewing the coffee, socializing (at the Kafenion), networking, and reading the coffee in order to predict the future 2. A very traditional and important game with regards to keeping  Greek identity alive is backgammon, which can be found in these stores. Traditionally, these games will be purchased from these small shops and brought home to be played or are used at the various different Greek societies in Astoria that we visited. It is said without a doubt that Greek bridal and gift shops like Hellenic Gifts are a huge economic security with regards to Greek commerce in Astoria as it allows for the Greek community to rally around and celebrate their culture while simultaneously inviting tourists into the world of Greek traditions and customs 3.

Inside the Shop

Image courtesy of Nicole Cavallo

Hellenic Gifts

Image courtesy of Nicole Cavallo


Author: Greg Maghakian