Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Greece Activity: Making Greek Worry Beads | World Cup for Kids Project

This post is part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs World Cup for Kids Project. Each time Greece plays, I will be posting about something you can do with your kids to get to know the Greek culture. You can follow along with each country playing in the World Cup herefind our introduction and schedule here.

Man holding Komboloi
Photo Credit: Begemot
Our World Cup posts about Greece include some interesting facts about the country as well as a recipe for a popular drink kids enjoy, here, and a list of books kids will enjoy here.

I have heard it said that upon entering a rural town in Greece, the streets hum with the sound of clicking beads. Komboloi, or Greek worry beads, are strands of beads used to relieve stress or pass the time. Until recently, they were only used by men, but now they're used by anyone.

Worry Beads
Photo Credit: Torsten Huckert
Though they resemble prayer beads, Komboloi have no religious significance. You can buy them made of any number of materials, but traditionally they were made out of organic materials like amber, bone or coral. They are generally made out of an odd number of beads, and there must be room to slide the beads along, for that satisfying clink.

There is a special way of using Komboloi, moving one bead to the other, flipping the strand, and it's this action and resulting clicking noise that is reported to help relieve tension. You can watch them being used here and instruction on how to use them here.

How to Make Komboloi - Greek Worry Beads

We picked up some cording and beads at our local craft store and made our own worry beads. Traditionally, the number of beads is one more than a multiple of 4 (for example 17 beads - 4x4+1) and the strand often ends in a tassel.

All you need are beads (in this case 17) and cording. Pea and Elle also chose contrasting beads as the fixed bead. 

String the 17 beads along a length of cording, ensuring it is long enough to give it some slack and attach a tassel - these beads are beaded onto the cording prior to cutting it.

Tie a knot giving the beads approximately 1/2 inch of slack. String the contrasting bead or beads along both ends of the cording, leaving the ends open to later attach the tassel.

Make a tassel: Cut lengths of cording at twice the length you want the tassel to be (because the cording will be folded in half). For this tassel, 8 pieces were cut at about 5" long. One extra piece was cut to bind the tassel (9 pieces of cording total).

1. Put your 8 tassel cords in an even bunch, and place it between the lengths of cord hanging from the end bead. 
2. Tie a knot attaching the tassel cords with the two lengths of cord hanging from the end bead. Tie the knot tightly.
3 & 4. Fold down the tassel cords, and use the last cut piece of cord to tie the tassel. Tie the knot tightly, and either fold those ends into the tassel or cut off near the knot.

Trim the ends of the tassel so that they are even. And you're done - you now have Greek worry beads! Can you use them in the unique Greek way? Do they relieve your stress?

Don't forget to find out about what other bloggers and families are doing to follow along with the World Cup and learning about different cultures. I've outlined how it works in my introduction and will be featuring other posts on our Facebook page.

You can find more cultural and historical activities at the following linkups:


  1. "The streets hum with clinking sounds," - very interesting. I love the choice of colors! Such a stress relief!

    1. I would love to walk through an old Greek town, and hear that sound :)

  2. This is so very cool. They are so pretty...and useful.

    1. Aren't they fun? I love that there's a special way of using them.

  3. Greece was my yearly destination with my friends during our late teens/ early twenties and I have never heard of these! I'm obviously not a very observant human being! They are beautiful and such a great craft to do with children.

    1. How fun that you regularly visited Greece! We seriously need to get out and about more :) Next time you go, you can be on the lookout for some, now that you know what to look for :)

  4. So interesting! I would have guessed that there was a religious significance, since they look so much like a rosary. Do you know if there once was, or is it just a coincidence?

    1. They really do look like rosaries, don't they? They have actually evolved from Greek prayer ropes made by monks.


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