One thing I know for sure, everybody, no matter where he/she is from, loves Christmas. Christmas have this magic energy to which nobody can resist. In Greece, just as in many countries around the world, Christmas is one of the biggest holidays of the year and Greek people have quite a few customs to celebrate Christmas.
My favourite one takes place during Christmas Eve. That morning children walk from door to door and sing a song about Jesus’ birth while playing the triangle musical instrument. This custom is named “kalada” and is one of the most typical Greek Christmas traditions.
Many years ago, before the American Christmas tree came to Greece, we used to decorate a boat for Christmas. Greece is surrounded by the sea and the boats were one of the country’s trademarks. Today nobody decorates boats anymore. Christmas trees have taken their place, but I think that we still consider the Christmas boat our traditional decoration. At least I do…
Of course Christmas would not be the same if food was not involved. Greek Christmas pastries are present in every home across Greece and include two types: “kourabiedes” and “melomakarona.” Kourabiedes are actually butter cookies covered with confectionary sugar, and melomakarona are like small honey cakes. Greek homes usually make their own every Christmas and their smell is just incredible. Their taste too!
Most of all Christmas in Greece is about family and friends. It is a special occasion and families always spend this holiday together. I cannot remember having spent Christmas without my parents, grandparents, cousins, uncles and so on. Especially in Greece this list can be very long.
So if you ever decide to spend your Christmas in Greece remember to taste melomakarona and kourabiedes, open your door to the children who will come to sing you the “kalada,” bring your family with you, and don’t forget to wish them “Kala Xristougenna” (Merry Christmas).
Eleni Meziti, Boston