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Ryan Serhant Learned a Lot About Greek Baby Superstitions Before Zena's Birth — Here Are Even More
The Million Dollar Listing New York broker had quite a bit to learn from his wife, Emilia Bechrakis, and her Greek family.
Million Dollar Listing New York's Ryan Serhant and his wife, Emilia Bechrakis, welcomed Zena on February 26. But before their daughter's birth, the then-dad-to-be got quite the lesson in Greek pregnancy superstitions from Emilia and her mom. Much like fellow broker Steve Gold explained, it's bad luck to get gifts for the unborn child before his or her birth, as they told Ryan when he brought home a cute present for unborn baby Z.
But there's more.
"When a pregnant lady is laying down, you cannot walk over her legs," Emilia explained to Ryan. "They say that, you know, it might have the umbilical cord around the baby's neck," Emilia's mom added.
And you're supposed to give your wife whatever she asks for when she's pregnant. (OK, TBH, we don't need superstition to believe this.)
"If she's craving for strawberries and there are none in the house and if you don't give it to her right there, go out and buy it, you may see a strawberry somewhere," Emilia's mom said. "You may see a birth mark in the shape of a strawberry on the baby," Emilia added.
(Learn more in the clip above.)
Here are additional Greek baby superstitions and predictions, some from ancient times and others that are still believed today.
Predicting a boy or girl
In ancient Greece, there was an odd superstition about the wind direction during sex. If the couple conceived a child while a north wind was blowing, then the next child would be a boy. If the wind was blowing from the south, it would be a girl. (No comment on pure easterly or westerly winds.)
Later, during pregnancy, the baby’s gender could be guessed by the shape of the pregnant woman’s belly: If the belly was rather “edged” or pointy (versus round), the baby would be a boy. If that didn't work, some believed you can shine a light on the mom's eye and count the dots that are on the bottom of her irises — one dot means boy and two dots mean girl.
The "fates" and the "evil eye"
Eight days after birth, the Fates — the eldest goddesses in Greek mythology — visit the newborn baby and determine his or her future destiny.
It was also commonly believed that new mothers were a source of jealousy and must avoid the "mati" or evil eye, and that a magical symbol of protection should be made on the baby's forehead so he or she couldn't be cursed as well.
In ancient times, this meant that a baby must stay out of the public eye for 40 days for his or her own safety. After that point, the baby could go to church and to be baptized. This held true for the baby's mother, too, as it was thought that a woman is "unclean" after delivering and could not leave the house until she was blessed as well.
While some of these things were left in the past — like always making the sign of the cross over a baby's mouth whenever he or she yawned to make sure they didn't "swallow any evil" — the evil eye is still feared today and it's common to give a new baby a present of an evil eye bead for additional protection.
Don't do *these* things before baptism
It's customary to not cut a baby's hair before his or her christening, even nowadays in the Greek Orthodox religion. The priest cuts a lock of the child's hair for the first time at the baptism ceremony.
Some Greek Orthodox families do not even call a baby by his or her given name until baptism either (or may not even give one), choosing instead to refer to the little one as "baby" until then.