Merry Christmas from Kids Love Greece
It’s almost Christmas. And as we start to tidy away the desk at Kids Love Greece and plan to spend time with our families, we thought we’d share with you a few things you might not know about how Christmas is celebrated in Greece.
Christmas in Greece
The main difference that visitors notice when in Greece during the holiday period, is that Christmas seems to a much more low-key event than in other parts of the world, and certainly the United States. However, Greece and especially Athens is getting more and more into celebrating Christmas and you will see Christmas trees everywhere as well as many Christmas lights and decorations on the streets.
This year, the city of Athens is making an extra effort to illuminate the city by asking everyone to participate in lighting up their shop, business or homes. Light installations and 3D light projections are part of the festive atmosphere in the Greek capital.
Another difference between Christmas in Greece and in other parts of the world, is in the Christmas treats. Melomakarona and kourambiedes are two examples of traditional Christmas sweets, and you can find them literally everywhere over the Christmas period. They look nice, don’t they?!
Whilst in the main cities such as Athens you may see Christmas Carol singers on the streets on the week leading up to Christmas Day, it’s Christmas Eve which is the big day for carol singers. There’s a whole tradition behind it, which sees kids visit houses in their neighborhoods, ringing a triangle, and singing traditional songs. As they go from house to house, they will collect sweets and other treats as a reward for their efforts. What types of songs do they sing? Take a look at the video below which gives a great taste of Christmas in Greece.
Perhaps the biggest difference between Christmas in Greece and in other parts of the world though is the day on which Christmas presents are exchanged. For many people, this is on the 25th or Christmas Day. In Greece though, it is traditional to exchange gifts on January the 1st. This is to honor St. Basil who gave away all his possession to the needy. As with many things though, traditions change over time, and so some Greeks may give presents on Christmas day instead. Really lucky kids might receive gifts on both Christmas and New Year’s Day!
Finally, we have a big family meal on Christmas Day. Whilst turkey is starting to feature on some tables during Christmas in Greece, pork and lamb are still firm favorites accompanied by a seemingly endless selection of side dishes which include potatoes, salads, and pies. Orthodox Christians who may have been fasting are now free to eat anything they want, and the entire family enjoys their Christmas Day meal together.
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