Kala christouyenna – christmas in greece

In Greece, Christmas does not have the same significance as in other countries. Because the Greeks celebrate at the turn of the year the holy Vassilios.

Written by: Editors in Culture 5. December 2008 0 1,948 views

Christmas atmosphere in the center of Athens

In Athens, however, there is also some Christmas spirit in December. Image: © picture alliance / Robert Geiss

In Greece Christmas does not have the same importance as in other European countries. The 24. December falls in the 40-day pre-Christmas Lent period, when people abstain from meat and milk. The Greeks do not know Advent and usually there are no gifts on Christmas Eve. But if you think that the Christmas season in Greece is desolate, is gravely mistaken.

A celebration among fir trees and bazaars

The Greek capital of Athens is more festively decorated than usual around Christmas time. While you can admire decorated fir trees in the more upscale districts, the older parts of town have a more oriental feel to them. People enjoy the atmosphere of the bazaars and bring home large quantities of east, legumes, meat and vegetables for the family. To drive away goblins, from the 24. December twelve nights Christmas fires lit.

On Christmas Eve, the 24. December, is still fasted, therefore the tables with nuts, raisins, almonds and dried figs are rather "sparingly" covered. Children go from door to door singing Christmas carols – the so-called "Kalanta" – to announce the birth of Christ. Many people from the large Greek cities or. Emigrants return to their hometowns at Christmas time to spend the holidays with family or friends. In addition, some families attend midnight mass together.

Kala Christouyenna – Merry Christmas!

More about Christmas abroad:

Normally, Greeks give each other presents on 24. and 25. December, the giving of presents takes place only on the 1. January instead of. Those who can afford it enjoy a real Christmas tree, but most families decorate an artificial little tree or a cypress tree.

It is an old tradition to decorate small ships for Christmas. This custom used to be practiced in all coastal areas and islands, but has been replaced in recent years by the Christmas tree. In areas where there are no fir trees, they are either bought expensively in stores or replaced by cypresses. As an additional decoration, people put up small carved nativity scenes.

On 25. December, people do not go to work, but visit friends and relatives to finally enjoy culinary delights such as turkey after the end of Lent. Christmas cookies are "melomakarona" (honey cookies with syrup, almonds and nuts) or "kourambiedes" (tea cookies with chopped nuts and sprinkled with powdered sugar).

More meaningful than Christmas for the Greeks is the turn of the year. The family gathers on the evening of the 31. December’s feast, where the traditional "Vassilopita" (New Year’s cake) is also served. Whoever finds the coin baked into the cake is said to be especially lucky in the coming year.

At New Year’s, St. Vassilios is celebrated and revered, he is the antithesis of St. Nicholas as we know him. Now the children can breathe a sigh of relief – finally there are the eagerly awaited presents.

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