Fundoo Times
Christmas in Greece is considered as an important festival and is celebrated with pomp and gaiety.

Christmas in Greece

Christmas in Greece was never considered a holiday season and was not as important as Easter. But, Greeks' perception about Christmas has changed over the years. Now, Christmas in Greece is considered as an important festival and is celebrated with pomp and gaiety. It is rather the favorite holiday season for children in the country, which means two weeks away from schools, lots of sweets and Christmas gifts. The streets and major cities in Greece are lavishly decorated with beautiful glowing lights.

St. Nicholas is an important icon related to Christmas in Greece. He is considered as the patron saint of the sailors. St Nicholas is portrayed as a man with clothes soaked with brine, beard drenched with saltwater and face covered with sweat because, he fights the storms and waves to reach the sinking ships and rescue the drowning sailors. The old custom of carrying a St Nicholas icon in the boat is still followed in Greece. Even today, many ships will not leave the port unless a St Nicholas icon is carried on board.

A shallow wooden bowl with a piece of wire hanging across the rim is found in every household of Greece, which is considered the main symbol of Christmas in Greece. A twig of basil draped around a wooden cross is hung from the bowl. Some water is kept in the bowl to keep the basil fresh. Bad spirits called as 'Killantzaroi' appear on Earth during the twelve days of Christmas. One of the family members, mostly mother, dips the basil and the cross in the Holy water and sprinkles it throughout the house to prevent the evil spirits from entering the house.

Christmas tree was not so popular in Greece. Over the years, Christmas tree has gained popularity. The tree is decorated beautifully in every household, one week prior to Christmas. Christmas lights, angels, stars, colorful and shining Christmas ornaments are used to decorate the tree. The latest Christmas tree decorations used in Greece are deer and carol singing Santa. Christmas Eve is the main day of celebration of Christmas in Greece. Small boys go from door to door and sing Kalanda, equivalent to Christmas carols. They receive attractive gifts such as dried figs, almonds, and sweets.

The grand Christmas feast is a major attraction for both the adults and children in Greece. 40 days of fasting is observed by Greeks and the Christmas feast marks the end of the fast. Hams, bacons, loaves of christopsomo or 'Christ bread' and kourambiethes, a famous Greek nut cookie are included in the traditional Greek Christmas feast. Christmas is a very busy time for the Greek women. They spend most of their time in the kitchen, making delicious Christmas cookies and other delicacies.