Greece is a country wheretraditions and customs area part of everyday life.Most holidays in Greeceare celebratedtraditionally, andChristmas in no exception. In Greece schools will beclosed for 15 days !
PREPARATIONS AND MENUES!As Christmas drew near, preparations began soall would be ready for the big holiday. Houseswould be cleaned with extra care, and a fewdays before Christmas housewives wouldprepare the Christmas cookies, which would beeaten on Christmas Day when the fastingended.In the past the honey cookies (melomakarona-the left picture) were made exclusively forChristmas, while sugar cookies, or kourabiedes(kourabiethes, the right picture), were preparedfor the New Year. Today, though, thatdistinction is not observed and bothmelomakarona and kourabiedes are preparedand consumed during the Christmas and NewYear holidays period.
Recipe for “Melomakarona”Ingreients:For the cookies:1 cup olive oil, 1 cup vegetable oil, 3/4 cup sugar, Zest of oneorange, 3/4 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup brandy, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. bakingsoda, Pinch of salt, 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup walnuts, ground coarsely,Ground cinnamon for sprinklingFor the syrup: 1 cup honey, 1 cup sugar, 1 1/2 cups water, 1 cinnamon stick, 3-4whole cloves, 1-2-inch piece lemon rind, 1 tsp. lemon juicePrepara tion:Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, using your fingers, combine theorange zest with the sugar – rubbing the grains as if you were playing with sand torelease the orange oils into the sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat the oil with theorange sugar until well mixed. In a separate bowl, sift the flour with the bakingpowder, baking soda and salt. Add the orange juice and brandy to mixer and mixwell. Slowly incorporate the flour cup by cup until the mixture forms a dough thatis not too loose but not quite firm either. It will be dense and wet but not sticky.Once the flour is incorporated fully stop mixing. To roll cookies, pinch a portion ofdough off about the size of a walnut. Shape in your palms into a smooth oblongshape, almost like a small egg. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Shape and rollcookies until the sheet is filled. Press the tines of a large fork in a crosshatch patternin the center of each cookie. This will flatten them slightly in the center. The cookiesshould resemble lightly flattened ovals when they go in the oven. Bake in apreheated 350-degree oven for 25 – 30 minutes until lightly browned. (The cookieswill darken when submerged in syrup.) While the cookies are baking, prepare thesyrup. In a saucepan, combine the honey, sugar, water, cinnamon, cloves, andlemon rind. Bring the mixture to a boil then lower the heat and simmer uncoveredfor about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the cinnamon, cloves, and lemon rind and stir inlemon juice. Place the ground walnuts in a shallow plate or bowl next to the stovetop. When the cookies come out of the oven and while they are still very warm,carefully float the cookies in the syrup and allow the cookies to absorb syrup onboth sides. Using a fork or small spatula, remove the cookie from the syrup andplace on a platter or plate. Press ground walnuts lightly into the tops of the cookies(syrup will help it adhere) and sprinkle lightly with ground cinnamon.
CHRISTMAS IN GREECEDuring the Christmas time we celebrateJuices Christ’s birthday (25th ofDecember). According to our religionMary gave birth to the son God JuicesChrist that night. Very early in themorning we are going to churches andpray listening beautiful vizantinehymns.
NEW YEAR IN GREECELater we celebrate the change of theyear –New Years Eve (31th ofDecember).Agios Vassilis (Santa Claus) is comingand gives presents to every child duringthat night. The families are gatheringtogether, having a dinner with severalfood, drinking wine and champagne.
“CHRIST BREAD”After 40 days of fasting, the Christmas feastis looked forward to with great anticipationby adults and children alike.On almost every table are loaves ofchristopsomo ("Christ Bread"). This bread ismade in large sweet loaves of various shapesand the crusts are engraved and decoratedin some way that reflects the familysprofession.
“VASILOPITA”Vasilopita is a New Years Day breador which contains a hidden coin ortrinket which gives good luck to thereceiver. It is made of a variety ofdoughs, including tsoureki. It isassociated with Agios Vassilis day,January 1, in most of Greece, but insome regions, the traditionssurrounding a cake with a hidden coinare attached to Epiphany or toChristmas.
SAINT NICOLAS-SAILORS’PROTECTORSt. Nicholas is important in Greece as thepatron saint of sailors. According toGreek tradition, his clothes are drenchedwith brine, his beard drips with seawater,and his face is covered with perspirationbecause he has been working hard againstthe waves to reach sinking ships andrescue them from the angry sea.That’s why In older times people in Greeceuse to decorate little boats instead of theChristmas tree.
THE LITTLE SHIPS TRADITON- “KARAVAKIA”At the past, young boys from the neighbourhoodsbegan to work together constructing model ships,The outcome was so impressive and thecompetition –for the bigger and better boat-became tougher, so much so that on New Year’sEve they would all go down to the town squarewith the accompaniment of music and penemata(verses that they would write themselves) anddisplay their ship to passers-by.In recent years on the last day of the yearchildren that have constructed modelcommercial ships or battleships, up to 5m, aresinging penemata and compete for the best boatand best presentation. The penemata and themelody are influenced by the Minor Asia carols.Here you can see a video :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hogXJkgUGM8
CHRISTMAS CAROLSChristmas caroling is very popularduring those days. The custom is thatchildren go from house to house singingthe carol, with the accompaniment of atriangle, and residents of the houses givethem a small amount of money , sweetsand dried fruits. . Greek Christmascarols (calanda) are sung on themornings of Christmas Eve, New YearsEve and January 5, the Eve of theEpiphany
The pomegranate traditionIn many parts of Greece, people hanga pomegranate above the front doorof their house. By the New Year, whenthe fruit will have dried, Greeks throwit on the ground so it breaks, and stepinto their house on their right foot.According to tradition, this bringsgood luck for the year to come.
MERRY CHRISTMAS ANDHAPPY 2013!WE WISH YOU EVERYLUCK AND JOY FOR THENEW YEAR! WARM REGARDS FROM
7 TH PRIM ARY SCHOOL OFCHIOSGREECEhttp://7dimchios.webnode.grwww.mikres-xares.gr
And here are some Greek Christmas Songs!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLS4B1cjw9ghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5LBmOspy64https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BE-pFMiAZfAhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3Ilcd6QaCAhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pJqDdPPgJ0 ENJOY!