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Christmas Traditions in Greece

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12th Primary School of Larissa

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Christmas Traditions in Greece

  1. 1. Christmas in Greece 12th Primary School of Larissa
  2. 2. Getting ready for Christmas Greeks start decorating their homes just a few days before Christmas when housewives will start making the traditional Christmas sweets, such as "kourabiedhes" and "melomakarana"
  3. 3. Christmas decorations As elsewhere, the Christmas tree is a recent innovation and formerly (but still on some places today) a Christmas ship was decorated and had the place of the tree.
  4. 4. Wishing and singing carols On Christmas Eve, village children travel from house to house offering good wishes and singing ‘kalanda’, the equivalent of carols. Often the songs are accompanied by small metal triangles and little clay drums. The children are frequently rewarded with sweets and dried fruit or with some coins. Apart from the Christmas Eve, children sing ‘Kalanda’ on New year's Eve and on the Eve of Epiphany.
  5. 5. Christmas feast After 40 days of fasting, the Christmas feast is looked forward to with great anticipation by adults and children alike. Preparing a "holiday table" means a soup, two or three main dishes covering the major meats and cooked in different ways, several salads, a couple of side dishes, lots of bread, cheeses, and of course, olives.In some places, women also make loaves of christopsomo ("Christ Bread"). This bread is made in large sweet loaves of various shapes and the crusts are engraved and decorated.
  6. 6. Saint Nicholas St. Nicholas is important in Greece as he is the patron saint of sailors. According to Greek tradition, his clothes are drenched with brine, his beard drips with seawater, and his face is covered with perspiration because he has been working hard against the waves to reach sinking ships and rescue them from the angry sea.
  7. 7. A New Year is coming.. It is really the 1st of January (St. Basil's Day) which is the most special day for children since this is when they receive their presents. This is because Father Christmas is not St. Nicholas/Santa Claus but Ayios Vasilis or St. Basil and so New Year's Day is also St. Basil's feast day
  8. 8. New Year’s Customs Early in the morning on New Year's Day usually a child does the "podariko" or first-footing. The first person that enters the house is considered to bring luck to its owners. Also on New Year's Day there is the interesting custom of breaking a pomegranate on the door for good luck!
  9. 9. Vasilopita A special cake is eaten on this day called the "Vasilopita" or St. Basil's Pie in which a "flouri" or lucky coin has been baked. Yet before this can be found the head of the house must first cross the cake with his knife and then cut the first slice for God, then the next for the baby Christ, followed by the "Panayia" (as Mary is called), then the next slice for the house and after for each member of the family starting with the eldest. The one who finds the "flouri" in their piece will have good luck all the forthcoming year.
  10. 10. The Kalikatzari Throughout the "Dodekaimera" or Twelve days of Christmas (from Christmas to the Epiphany, which is on January 6th, it is of interest to note that all houses are vulnerable to a malicious type of elf / pixy called the “kallikantzari”. These creatures are believed to emerge from the center of the earth and to slip into people's house through the chimney. More mischievous than actually evil, the Killantzaroi do things like extinguish fires, ride astride people's backs, braid horses' tails, and sour the milk. To further repel the undesirable sprites, the hearth is kept burning day and night throughout the twelve days .
  11. 11. The Epiphany The Greek Christmas celebrations conclude with the festival of "Ta Phota" or "The Lights" as Epiphany is called on January 6th. In the Orthodox Church this feast is important as the baptism of Christ. On the Eve of this day the priest will go round all houses and sprinkle holy water to bless the houses and all those who live there. It is believed that this visit by the priest will expel the "kallikantzari" who leave before they can finish sawing the world's foundations. All Christmas decorations will be taken down on 8th January. This is also the time when children go back to school.
  12. 12. Merry Christmas to all of you We hope you enjoyed watching our presentation and that someday you will have the opportunity to visit Greece and celebrate Christmas with us! Students of the 12th Primary School of Larissa, Greece