Carols about the birth of Jesus sung by the sweet choral voices of kids, unique decorations, scary superstitious notions, and painstakingly-made cakes all comprise part of Greece’s many Christmas traditions. A lot of these are similar if not the same across the country however well known with various variations, depending upon what cultural influences each location has been affected by over the centuries. A lot of the traditions that continue to be honoured today root back to generations upon generations ago of Greeks from islands, towns and cities alike.
Christopsomo Preparing the Christ-bread involves a ritual that is considered almost sacred and in the old days was made by conventional housewives with ultimate reverence, in some cases while stating a prayer. Patiently they kneaded a dough using a special type of yeast, which in some dishes contained dried basil. In some parts of the nation, they also added rosewater, sesame seeds, honey, cinnamon, and cloves. A piece of dough is kept aside for making a cross at the centre of the ‘bread’, which is then ‘etched’ with designs like flowers, symbols of abundance or animals appropriate to the family (for instance sheep for a shepherd’s house). On Christmas Eve the household gathered around the bread to carve it and exchange wishes. In Ithaka, the Christ-bread was generally narrow, while in some parts of Drama a small round loaf would be connected and baked on top of a bigger round loaf, one symbolizing the cave in which Christ was born and another Christ himself.
Christmas Boat Although extensively changed by the Christmas tree in homes throughout the country, Greeks have not forgotten the Christmas boat tradition that roots back way more. The boat is a sign for the Christmas and New Year duration not only since Greece is a seafaring country however due to the fact that it represents taking a trip into a new direction blessed by the birth of Christ. Fifty years ago nearly every household in Greece included a Christmas boat at this joyful time of year, and one can still see it illuminated today, but primarily in island town homes.
Christmas Log The custom of decorating the Christmas tree was presented to Greeks during the guideline of King Otto in 1833 when a tree at the Royal Palace was decorated for the populace to admire. It took as the post-WWII duration nevertheless up until Greeks started to mimic this custom-made on an extensive level.
The tree’s conventional predecessor was the “Christ branch”, a very thick, durable log– generally from a pear, wild cherry or a tough tree (thorny trees were favoured due to the fact that their spikes were thought to keep devils away), or even pine or olive as more typically utilized in northern Greek towns. The chosen log would be put in the fireplace and with all the family collected around, lit on Christmas Eve. The goal was to let it burn up until Epiphany Day (January 6th). There were 2 reasons for this custom: one was that it was a symbol of supplying heat and light to child Christ and his mom the Virgin Mary in the cold, dark cavern where he was born; the second was that the fire would keep the naughty, wicked kalikantzaroi out of the home. After the log had vanished into ashes the lady of the house would generally gather them and spread them all around the outside of the house and on any farmland they owned to secure the household and their house from evil.
Naughty Kalikantzaroi Tall, unsightly and charcoal black, furry, with goat’s legs and red eyes, these demonic creatures have actually horrified superstitious Greeks since Pagan times. The Kalikantzaroi were thought to reside in the centre of the earth throughout the year, attempting to saw the world tree and cause it to collapse. They would increase to the surface area of the earth on Christmas Eve to trigger havoc for the humans who live there till Surprise Day. Superstition states that the kallikantzaroi take, misplace and soil things around your home and cause all other sort of mischief. Generally, if anything goes wrong on the 12 days of Christmas, you can with confidence blame them!
Feasting Pork is the popular component in the Greek Christmas banquet, because generally in the weeks leading up to the holiday the slaughter of pigs or’ heirosfagia ‘happened. This was not typically a gratuitous act, but a way of developing a stock of meat to feed the village community throughout the year. In older times when people didn’t have high-tech fridges, or any refrigerators at all for that matter, the pork meat was saved in its own fat in the type of sausages, kavourma, and other preserved mixtures. But first, it would be delighted in at the Christmas table. Turkey with stuffing is a western cooking Christmas custom that has actually been executed by Greeks in only the last 40-50 years at most. Conventional Christmas dishes consisted of cabbage dolmades made with rice, mince, and egg-lemon (avgolemono) sauce since Byzantine times, meat and vegetable pies and pork baked on the fire with leeks or served as pikti (slow-cooked with lots of lemon).
Carol Singing Kalanda Christmas folk songs are generally sung on Christmas, New Year’s Day and Epiphany Day. More traditional times they were sung by kids in village squares, however in more modern-day times kids go from home to house ringing doorbells and asking ‘Na Ta Poume?’ (Shall We Sing?) to ‘bless’ homes with the Christmas spirit and good luck. Home-owners listen to them singing and playing the triangle at the door and after that use them a few coins as an indication of thanks. With Pagan and Byzantine roots, Greece’s carols return a long way.
Pomegranate smashing If you’re wanting abundance and all the best, you need to get ready for some pomegrate-smashing! On the early morning of New Year’s Day, when traditionally Greek households went to the church service, the man of the house would take with him a pomegranate. Upon returning to your house, the man would sound the front doorbell or knock (according to tradition he was not permitted to unlock with his secret) and be the first to enter your home in the New Year. Holding the pomegranate in his hand and stepping through the front door– constantly with the ideal foot first– he is then expected to toss the pomegranate to the flooring with fantastic force, making certain it smashes into pieces and that its seeds spread out around the flooring. While he does this he needs to state: “with health, joy and joy, the New Year and might our pockets be filled with the exact same amount of golden coins (lires) as there are seeds throughout the year.” The more ruby-red, gleaming and translucent the seeds are, the more blessed the year ahead assures to be. Another performance of this tradition is to invite a good friend or relative whom you think about especially fortunate and enjoyable to enter your home and action on a piece of iron so that everyone in the house will be strong throughout the year.
Tags: Chrisostomo, Greek Christmas, Greek Christmas boat, Greek Christmas food, Greek Christmas traditions, Greek culture, Greek history, Greek traditions, Kalenda, Kalikantzaroi, pomegranate smashing