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Worry Beads - Worry Knot!

It is unclear where worry beads originated from but it is likely that the monks on Mount Athos in Northern Greece first used them as religious prayer beads many centuries ago and still do so. They were used to count off the daily prayers rather like rosary beads, and were made from any locally found natural materials such as wood, shells and olive pits. They were strung together on woolen thread to make a bead string.

Another theory of their origin is that they were introduced when the Byzantine Empire fell after the capture of Constantinople in 1453, by the Ottoman's who ruled Greece until independence in 1821. The Greeks used a string of 40 prayer beads to mock their conquerors.

Whatever their origin, worry beads have been assimilated into Greek culture and no longer have any religious significance, but are merely an instrument of relaxation and way of relieving the stresses of the day. Furthermore worry beads are used by people to keep their mind off habits they wish to control, such as reducing smoking and overeating.

Armenians also use worry beads in a non religious way.

Many different materials are used in the making of worry beads, from inexpensive acrylic, bone or glass to more costly porcelain and costlier still, natural stones such as amber, agate or gold and silver.

Greek worry beads generally have an odd number of beads, one more than a multiple of four; 17, 21 or 25 for example, or prime numbers such as 17,19 or 23, one bead being tied and set off and decorated with a tassel. The beads may be round or oblong in shape. A string of leather, cord or fine metal chain would be a least two palm widths in length, allowing for the free movement of the beads.

There are no specific instructions on how worry beads are to be used, the purpose is to occupy the mind for several minutes diverting it from whatever has caused the stress, or take the mind off a habit to be broken. The purpose is to promote a relaxed and soothing state of mind.

They are usually held with the palm of the hand upwards, strung over the middle finger and hanging downwards. Starting at one end,the thumb and fore finger is then used to guide each bead over the middle finger so eventually all the beads are on one side, at which time all the beads are swung back and the process repeated.


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