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Christmas in Greece
12th Primary School of Larissa
Getting ready for Christmas
Greeks start decorating
their homes just a few
days before Christmas
when housewives will
start making the
sweets, such as
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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 .
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.
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
Students of the 12th Primary School of Larissa, Greece