Christmas is a traditionally important time in Greece, with two public holidays provided on Christmas day and the the day afterward. The whole advent season in Greece is still more religious than in other countries where it has become a secular, commercialised holiday.
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The Christmas season in Greece lasts for an entire month. It traditionally begins on 6 December with the Feast of St. Nicholas and ends on 6 January with the Feast of the Epiphany.
In some areas, a period of fasting takes place for some in preparation for this very spiritual holiday season. It is actually a very solemn holiday in Greece. Beautiful Christmas carols, known as kalandas, are sung that have been carried down from the Byzantine era and bring a sense of reverence to the holiday season.
In most homes, the tradition of hanging up a wooden cross in a shallow bowl that is wrapped in basil is still popular. Each morning the ends of the basil sprig may be dipped in holy water and sprinkled in each of the rooms to ward off evil spirits known as Killantzaroi. These mischievous spirits are known to bring bad luck and must be kept away.
The main meal for Christmas is very grand and is much anticipated by both adults and children. The menu may include items such as roasted lamb and pork and giant loaves of spiced sweet bread which is called christopomo or Christ bread.