My Big Fat Greek Christmas

My Big Fat Greek Christmas

Greece shares many of its Christmas Traditions with us, but there are some fascinating differences

1   The Tradition of decorating the Christmas Boat

Long before the Christmas Tree made an appearance Greek Families were decorating Christmas Boats.  Particularly in the islands and coastal communities, decorated wooden boats welcomed husbands and sons back from the sea safe and sound

2   Saint Basil (Agios Vassilis)

Father Christmas in Greece is not based on Saint Nicholas, but on Saint Basil.  One of the three Hierarchs, Saint Basil the Great was known for caring for the ill, for building hospitals and giving to the poor.  He became known as the Saint who gave gifts at Christmas - on the 1st of January - his Feast Day

3   The Greek Kalanda

These are the Traditional carols sung by children usually accompanied by a metal triangle and drum.  As they sing from door to door they are treated with sweets, a little money or even some olive oil!

4   Greek Christmas Food

Greek Christmas Food is made with the country's famous local products such as oil, oranges, honey and nuts.  The traditional Christmas dish is pork, and it is usually served as the first meat to break the advent fast.  While Christmas food varies by region, you'll also find stuffed cabbage, mulled wine, honeyed raki as well as delicious sweet cookies.  Kourabiedes are shortbread-like sugar-dusted almond cookies and  Melomakarona, my favourite, moist, spiced, walnut-topped honey cookies - see above blog for the recipe

5   Breaking a Pomegranate

For thousands of years, Pomegranate has been a symbol of prosperity and fertility in Greece, and at Christmas-time you will find it in many decorations or hanging from house doors.  On New Year's Eve the householder stands outside their front-door at midnight and breaks a pomegranate by throwing it on the doorstep.  The scattered seeds of the fruit bring health and happiness to the family for the year ahead



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