Dec 11, 2015

Christmas Traditions in Greece

Greece is known as a country of traditions and customs that are part and parcel of everyday’s life. These traditions are evident in most holidays including the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, Christmas. One of the traditions you should look forward to, as you visit Greece during Christmas, is caroling, a very popular custom everywhere you go. However, despite the fact that Christmas carols can be heard at different moments throughout the holiday season, Greece has three official Christmas caroling days which are deeply entrenched in their traditions. 

According to the customs, children normally sing the carols from house to house, accompanied by a triangle. As they sing, the residents will give them some money as a token of appreciation. Greek Christmas carols normally known as Kalanda are usually sang on the morning of the Christmas Eve, the Eve of the new year, and Epiphany Eve on January the 5th.

Traditionally, Greece has 12 days of holidays running from the 25th of December to 6th of January the following year, although for over one month before Christmas, many Greeks celebrate their name days that seem “packed” during this time of year. Old folk stories have it that during the Christmas days, short goblins come out to mock the residents and eat their food. These goblins are popular for being impish and ugly. They can’t hurt anyone but they aren’t very clever. The legends claim that these imps enter through the chimneys thus the reason why fireplaces remain lit throughout the 12 Christmas days each year especially in the villages. They leave after Epiphany, when the waters are being blessed, indicating this tradition is based on the myth that Christ was not baptized until that day, hence the waters aren’t yet “christened” - blessed by Him.

Many houses hung Christmas wreaths with pomegranates above the front doors, or just whole pomegranates as a tradition. The Greeks throw the fruits to the ground by the New Year so that they can break, since they are normally dry, as a wish for a“fruitful” year. They then enter into the house on the right foot to bring them good luck in the year ahead.

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