Thursday , June 17 2021

Yiayia’s story walking around the “Perivoli”

Yiayia had me walk around the “perivoli,” meaning garden, yesterday. As we were walking around she picked the flowers of the Lavender plant… Did you know? she said… and started to unravel a story that captured my interest…


“This plant” she said, ” belongs to the goddess Persephone”… Then she went on to tell me….

Lavender as we know it was called in the ancient times nardus. It is said to be under the protection of the Greek goddess Persephone. She is the goddess of springtime and maidenhood, and is the queen of the Underworld. She is married to Hades who is also her uncle.”

Yiayia laughs at the thought that she was married to her uncle, after her laugh she gives a grin and says.. “no wonder, the poor child”.

Not wanting to go into more detail she was quick to tell me , “Her Roman name is Proserpine.” Just like that Yiayia changed the subject… Yiayia is good at that!


The plant has been used all around for more than 2500 years in medicine, perfumes and other daily aspects of life. The Ancient Greeks used lavender to fight insomnia and back aches, now we have the tablets to solve everything” she says. Looking at her handful of flowers she smiles at me “These will go nicely in my vase.”

Walking around the perivili she mentions….

“The church used lavender during holy festivals, mostly during Midsummer’s eve.  Waving her finger at me “You have been given it at church! and then smiled.  Continuing the conversation she offers the flowers for me to smell… “Ωραία” (nice) “You know  because of its strong healing abilities, monks grew the herb in the monastery gardens, am not sure if they do now”, she points out.

But it was the the ancient Egyptians who used lavender for more important rituals, they actualy used it for mummification and perfume.

Of course I couldn’t believe that fact she told me …. “look it up on that google thing you have” she replied.

After looking it up on that “Google thing” I also learnt that:-

Romans used lavender oils for cooking, bathing and scenting the air and the name is derived from the Latin verb lavare—which means, “to wash.” The Romans also used lavender oil in soaps and carried it with them throughout the Roman Empire. In Medieval and Renaissance France, women who took in washing for hire were known as “lavenders.” Clothes were washed in lavender and laid to dry on lavender bushes. Lavender was used to scent drawers, perfume the air and ward off infection and heal wounds. It was also recognized in Roman times for its antiseptic and healing qualities…

As you can see Yiayia had a lot to tell me and my walk around the Περιβόλι was defintely more interesting that those before  <3


photos:- Public Domain 



About Louise Inzk

Louise is Australian born and has been a Greek citizen since 1991. She has deep cultural ties with the island, often writing about Zakynthian Traditions and Culture. She is also an active member of the Volunteer Group of Zakynthos, Giostra Di Zante and is a member of the women's choir "Rodambelos". Her love of the island and all it offers saw her joining the Zakynthos (Zante) Informer admin team in 2014.

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