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Christmas

Christmas 2017 and 2018

In Greece, Christmas is celebrated in a very different way than it is in other parts of the world.

YearDateDayHoliday
201725 DecMonChristmas Day
26 DecTue2nd Day of Christmas
201825 DecTueChristmas Day
26 DecWed2nd Day of Christmas

Christmas is celebrated all over the world. Christmas is considered to be a very magical time for children. It is also a wonderful way for families to get together to celebrate and enjoy one another’s company. Christmas in Greece is traditionally celebrated over a longer period than in other nations that celebrate it on December 25th. For Greeks, Christmas also has a more spiritual rather than commercial meaning. There is greater emphasis on the birth of Jesus Christ than elsewhere because of the strong influence and membership within the Greek Orthodox Church.

The Christmas season in Greece lasts for an entire month. It traditionally begins on December 6th with the Feast of St. Nicholas and ends on January 6th with the Feast of the Epiphany. During the Christmas season, many businesses are closed or have unusual hours. 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. There is never a moment when people do not remember that Christ is the true meaning of Christmas. 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 are 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. Another tradition of keeping them away is to keep the fireplace or hearth burning for the entire 12 days of Christmas.

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. The meal is centered around the family and symbolizes togetherness in remembrance of the birth of Christ.