Christmas Customs in Greece are many as this vacation is clearly celebrated. Most of these custom-mades and traditions date from the early Christian times or they are even continuations of ancient Greek customizeds. A walk in the towns and towns of Greece during Christmas will bring you to decorated squares, streets, stores and homes.
As this is a maritime country, the Greeks traditionally decorate boats for Christmas. This customized makes it through today in seaside towns and islands, where people embellish Christmas boats in the central squares. The Christmas tree is a foreign custom for Greece and it was brought by Otto, the very first king of the nation, who was of Bavarian origin. Over the years, the Christmas tree was integrated into the regional culture and now the Greeks decorate fir trees in their homes and in squares of mountainous towns.
The early mornings on the days prior to Christmas and New Year, kids in groups go from one house door to the other to sing the carols. Every region has different Christmas carols however all over the lyrics are happy and wish luck and prosperity to the member of the family. When signing, children typically hold little metal triangles and drums.
St Basil’s Cake
St Basil’s Cake is prepared for the supper of New Year’s Eve. Some families in the towns cut the cake after lunch on January first, but most households cut it right after the coming of the New Year at midnight. This cake, called vasilopita in Greek, is dedicated to Saint Basil, who is the Santa Claus in the Greek custom and brings the presents to children that opening night of the year.
Generally St Basil’s Cake has a golden coin inside. The individual who finds this coin in his piece is considered fortunate for all the coming year. After midnight on New Year’s Eve, the family and friends collect around the table and the homeowner or homemaker begins cutting the pieces. The first piece is for Christ, the 2nd for the Virgin Mary, the 3rd for the house and after that the homeowner cuts pieces for the members of the table by order of age.
In the villages of mainland Greece, the homeowner cuts a piece for the livestock and the fields of the household, if they have any. In the islands, they cut a piece for the boat or the mill, if they own one.
Melomakarona, kourabiedes and other sweets
Other standard Christmas sweets are melomakarona, kourabiedes, and diples. Melomakarona has their roots in the Byzantine times, while kourabiedes have an Ottoman origin. These two are the most characteristic sugary foods of Christmas that all housewives prepare. Diples are likewise prepared in various areas.
According to the Greek folk tradition, from Christmas Day up until the Epiphany Day, hobgoblins that live underground come up to the Earth to tease and play tricks with individuals. These hobgoblins (kallikantzari in Greek) are little monsters with bandy legs and arms, stooped backs, large ears, weird eyes and all kinds of defects. All over the year, the hobgoblins live under the ground and saw the tree of the year. Around Christmas, when their sawing is nearly done, they go up to the world. On Surprise Day, the town priest goes from house to house around the town and sprays with blessed water the spaces of your houses so that the hobgoblins return underground.
Considering that ancient times, the pomegranate has actually been the symbol of good luck, youth, and fertility. In numerous Greek villages, on New Year’s Day, the householder stands outside the front door and breaks a pomegranate hitting it hard on the flooring so that the seeds spread out everywhere and bring joy, health, and abundance to the members of the family.