In Greece when we talk about Christmas, we are referring to the holiday period of Christmas, New Year and Epiphany. In Greece a fasting period starts 40 days before Christmas. During this period the faithful fast from meat, eggs and dairy products.
KalandaOn Christmas Evechildren go fromhouse to housesinging Kalanda(Christmas carols),tapping small metaltriangles.
Christmas decoration The decorated Christmas tree, artificial or natural is in most houses many weeks before Christmas with Christmas lights, stars, angels and any kind of shining Christmas ornaments.
Christmas ship -KaravakiIn many places,especially the islands,the Greek peopledecorate shipsinstead of Christmastrees to celebrate theholiday season.
The main dish of Christmas dinner is stuffed turkey or roast pork.Kourabiedes,melomakarona anddiples are the mostfavouriteChristmas sweets.
ChristopsomoIt is a special kindof bread that ismade on ChristmasEve.It has a crosscarved into the topcrust before it isbaked. On Christmas Day,the head of thehousehold makesthe sign of thecross above theloaf of bread, cutsit and gives a pieceto each person atthe dining table.
New yearSmashing the pomegranatePomegranate is anancient symbol offertility,regeneration andprosperity.As the New Yeararrives someoneconsidered good orlucky, will step outof the door andsmash apomegranate forgood luck.
At exactly midnight onDecember 31 the father orthe older person in thehousehold, turns off thelights and turns them onagain a few seconds later,so "new light" will comewith the New Year.Then a special kind ofcake called "vassilopita"containing a coin is cutamong the members ofthe family and friends.Every person and eventhe pets of the householdare entitled to one piece.One piece is dedicated toJesus and one to thehouse itself. Whoeverfinds the coin in his pieceis considered to be luckyfor the whole year
Greeks normally exchange gifts on New Year’s Eve.According to the tradition, Santa Claus(Agios Vassilis) brings the gifts and leaves thembelow the tree for the kids.Agios Vassilis is not the same person as SantaClaus though; Agios Vassilis comes fromCaesarea not from Northern Europe.
KalikantzariThe kalikantzaroi are tiny little creatures that look like elves.They live in the depths of the earth where their mission is tochop at a huge tree trunk that is the earths foundation. Theywork all year round to accomplish this. Right when they areabout to finish the job, Christmas day arrives and theysurface on earth for twelve days (from December 25 throughJanuary 6). During their visit they create havoc and playtricks on people. As a matter of fact, if anythingunexplainable happens during those twelve days, the Greeksblame these creatures. Many leave their fireplace on for theduration of the twelve days to prevent the creatures fromentering their house (they usually come in through thechimney). The "kalikantzaroi" are afraid of fire, light, the cross, andholy water. For this reason, they disappear on the day ofEpiphany when all the waters are blessed. However, whenthey return to the depths of the earth, they find the earthstree trunk completely restored, due to the miracle of ChristsBirth, so they have to start their mission to destroy the earthall over again.
Fota or TheophaniaThe festive seasonends on EpiphanyDay (January 6)when the Churchcelebrates thebaptism of Jesusand the prieststhrow a cross in thesea, rivers, lakes oreven waterreservoirs.Young people dive toretrieve the crossand the person thatcatches it,is consideredblessed.