May 30, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Christmas is a big holiday and an important day for everyone in Greece, especially for children and single citizens – Christmas, a day of hope and joy. Editorial staff of the Internet portal “Athens News” cordially congratulates all our readers on the holiday.

We remind you that in Greece there are official holidays are December 25 – Christmas and December 26 – Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary (weekends), January 1 – New Year (weekends 1-2), January 6 – Epiphany (days off). On New Year’s Eve, adults and children spend a real Christmas holiday.

The Greek Orthodox Church, along with 11 other Orthodox churches, unlike the Russian Orthodox Church, celebrates the Feast of the Nativity of Christ on the night of December 25th. But they do not use the “Catholic” Gregorian calendar, but the so-called New Julian calendar. And on January 7 (new style), together with the Russian Orthodox Church, the Jerusalem, Serbian and Georgian Orthodox churches, Athos monasteries, Eastern Rite Catholics and some Protestants who adhere to the Julian calendar celebrate Christmas. The difference between it and the Gregorian calendar is 13 days.

Christmas and New Year in GreecePriests of different Christian denominations note that the discrepancy in the date of Christmas celebration is not related to religious doctrine, but is due only to differences in the calendars that one or another church traditionally adheres to. The differences in the dates of the celebration of the Nativity of the Lord do not change its spirit. The spirit of quiet, calm family happiness, which we wish for you too, as well as the birth of new bright ideas, joyful events, more happiness and love, prosperity and economic well-being.


Christmas and New Year in Greece

Greece is a country of the sea and sailors, and therefore a boat is often depicted on New Year’s greeting cards. Model boats are also placed under New Year trees. In villages and villages, there used to be a tradition when, on the eve of the holidays, residents went into the forest in search of a strong spruce tree (or olive), which they then chopped down and brought home. This tree is called “Christoxylo” – the tree of Christ. The logs were carried into the house to be burned in the fireplace or stove during all holidays, from Christmas to Epiphany.

Christmas and New Year in Greece

According to popular belief, while this tree is burning, Christ is warm in the cold Bethlehem cave. Today this tradition is preserved only in some villages in northern Greece.

Christmas and New Year in Greece

Another tradition that continues to this day is pre-holiday cleaning of the home fireplace. The purpose of this procedure is to clear the chimney and chimney of ash so that evil spirits and demons cannot enter the house in the new year.

Traditional carols

As for carols, they were necessarily sung by children and adults on these holidays. This tradition is still alive today. Children go from house to house, ringing metal triangles and singing carols.

Christmas and New Year in Greece

There are traditions in the holiday menu. In Greece, the main Christmas dish is cabbage rolls (“lsetiosarmades”), symbolizing Christ wrapped in swaddling clothes. A pie is also prepared, pickles (“tursha”) and dried fruit compotes are served, as well as “Christopsomo” – Christmas bread, to which nuts, raisins and olives are added. Also on these days, roast pork, turkey stuffed with rice, chestnuts and raisins, sweet pie and boiled wheat with sugar are prepared. A coin is baked in the “St. Basil’s pie” (“vasilopite”) – whoever finds it will be happy for the whole next year.

Christmas is a time of fun and joy. But in the Mani region of the Peloponnese, Christmas is also a time for scary stories. One of them is about the Kalikandzars, ugly and evil creatures from the Underworld. Residents of Mani avoid going out at night after Christmas to avoid being kidnapped by evil freaks. Children dress up as Kalikandzar as Mani and go around houses with carols.

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