These ancient beads resemble prayer beads, but actually bear no religious significance at all. They are merely an instrument of relaxation and stress management. Sometimes komboloi are also used by people who want to limit smoking. This last one seems kinda doubtful to me because it seems everyone here wants to die of lung cancer, this country is filled with chain smokers: a cigarette in one hand and a set of beads in the other!
Komboloi beads are now an everyday part of modern Greek culture. It is extremely common to see them used among middle aged and older men, obviously they carry the “stress” of Greece.
They typically contain an odd number of beads and can be handled in many different ways. The most common are a quiet method, for indoors, and a noisier method that is acceptable in public places.
Fans claim that wiggling the beads creates a rush of adrenaline, followed by a soothing, calm sensation. Also, the rhythmic and repetitive motion puts some people into a trance.
Whatever their reason, old men here just love them.