There are two sides to Christmas in Greece; one is religious and
solemn, while the other is festive and glamorous. Both of them
have their charm. Most towns in Greece are decorated with
bright lights, bells, angels and other Christmassy objects.
According to Christmas traditions in Greece, the patron saint of
the holiday is Saint Nicolas, who is also the protector of sailors.
For this reason, you will often see boats decorated with many
sparkling lights, rather than the traditional Christmas trees.
The Christmas season in Greece begins on December 6 th, which is
Saint Nicolas day, and ends on January 6 th, which is the Feast of
the Epiphany (Theophania).
Christmas shopping in Greece is an absolute delight. Streets
are packed with people buying Christmas gifts for their loved
ones, as well as Christmas carolers singing Christmas songs.
Since gifts are traditionally given on New Year's Eve,
Christmas shopping in Greece continues way after the 25 th of
December. Therefore, Xmas shopping in Greece isn't just
If you come to Greece at Christmas, you will have the
opportunity to attend a wide variety of events and festivities.
Christmas in Athens is a fantastic time of the year. The
largest Christmas tree in Europe is lit in Syntagma Square, the
location of the capital's Christmas village, where little elf
houses sell candy and children can take part in a number of
Greece is a country where traditions and customs are a part of
everyday life. Most holidays in Greece are celebrated traditionally, and
Christmas in no exception. Christmas caroling is very popular, and
although you might hear them being sung at any given moment during
the holiday season, there are actually three "official" caroling days.
The custom is that children go from
house to house singing the carol, with
the accompaniment of a triangle, and
residents of the houses give them a
small amount of money. Greek Christmas
carols (calanda) are sung on the mornings
of Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve and
January 5, the Eve of the Epiphany.
Traditional carols ( Calanda)
According to tradition, during the Greek 12 days of Christmas
(December 25 to January 6), goblins come out to tease people
and eat their food. This tradition is based on the legend that
the "waters aren't christened" since Christ has not yet been
The goblins are renowned for their ugliness and their impishness. They are
not very intelligent and can't really hurt anybody. It is said that they enter
houses through chimneys, and this is the reason people, especially in villages,
In many parts of Greece, people hang a pomegranate
above the front door of their house. By the New Year,
when the fruit will have dried, Greeks throw it on the
ground so it breaks, and step into their house on their
right foot. According to tradition, this brings good luck
for the year to come.
Christmas Food in Greece
Christmas, like many other holidays in Greece, is a time for
feasting. In the past years, Christmas turkey has become very
popular as the main dish of the holiday. Traditionally, the main
course of Christmas dinner in Greece is roast pork, with a variety
of side delicacies. No matter what the main dish is, one thing is
certain: Christmas food in Greece is delicious!
“Melomakarona” and “kourabiedes” are the two varieties of Christmas
and New Year's cookies in Greece. The first are semolina, cinnamon,
and clove cookies drenched in honey,
... while the second are rosewater and fresh butter cookies
sprinkled with powdered sugar that are normally served on New
Year's but many succumb to temptation and begin consuming them
“Christopsomo” is the bread that is made on Christmas Eve,
which has a cross carved into the top crust before it is
baked. On Christmas Day, the head of the household makes
the sign of the cross above the loaf of bread, cuts it and
gives a piece to each person at the dining table.
Vasilopita is a cake that is eaten on New Year's Day.
Before the cake is baked, a coin covered in foil is placed in it.
The New Year is written on top of the cake with almonds.
The person who cuts the cake makes the sign of the cross
three times above it and then starts serving the pieces, one
to each person, the house, Christ, The Virgin Mary and Saint
Vasileios. Whoever has the coin in his piece of cake will have
Due to the nature of the Christian Orthodox religion, Christmas is
a very religious holiday in Greece. The season starts of with Saint
Nicolas day and continues with many other saints' days up till
Christmas. It is customary for those of faith to go to church on
Christmas morning for the religious service. New Year's Day is also
Saint Vasileios day.
The Christmas season winds down with the Theophania on January
6 th (Christ’s Baptism).
On this day around Greece, waters are blessed and a cross is
thrown into the waters. Dozens of brave young people dive into the
freezing water to retrieve the cross, which is said to bring good
luck to the person that reaches it first.
Some of the most charming features in Greece are its villages,
especially those located on the beautiful mountainsides. At
Christmas time in Greece, the tall mountains are snowcapped, as
are the lush evergreen trees that cover the countryside. Most
villages in Mainland Greece have picturesque stone-brick houses
and narrow alleyways, which in the wintertime, resemble a small
Santa's village. They are the ideal places to spend a white
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