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Learn a little here about the Greek worry beads, Komboloi.

"Those who travel to Greece will likely leave with a set of colourful komboloi in their pocket"

I was just two years old when my Grandad passed away but in my mind’s eye I can still see him clicking the beads of the Komboloi along their string. It is an image I saw many times over when on holiday in Greece: the local men in the cafés sitting in their chairs, clicking the beads on their Kolomboi.

Komboloi are known to English speakers as worry beads. Typically, they will be colourful stones threaded onto a piece of string. They will have an odd number of stones, which tradition says will bring good luck (Kombologadiko, 2019). Some people use them to soothe their worries, counting the beads one by one or spinning the beads in their hands. Indeed, each individual uses them differently and many tourists buy them simply as a souvenir.

It is believed that Komboloi originated in the very early days of Greece itself, hundreds of years before the birth of Christ (GCT Team, 2017). The word itself is made up of two parts: kombos which means knots; and logio which means collection or from the verb leo to say. For this reason, the phrase “In every knot I say a prayer” is related. Komboloi as it is said today evolved from the Greek word komboskini meaning prayer rope (Tsolakidou, 2012). The beads were thought to have first been used by monks who originally tied knots on string to remember their prayers to God and indeed, in other religions, similar items can be found. Catholics have the rosary beads and Muslims have prayer beads (GreekBoston, 2019).

Nowadays, the Komboloi have become a symbol of Greece and Greek culture and those who travel there will very likely leave with a set of colourful komboloi in their pocket.

To learn more:

GCT Team. 2017. Komboloi: history of Greece’s favourite pastime. Available at:

GreekBoston. 2019. What tourists in Greece should know about worry beads (Kolomboi). Available at:

Kombologaadiko. 2019. History of komboloi. Available at:

Tsolakidou, S. 2012. The history and how to of Komboloi aka Greek worry beads.

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