Greek Christmas

My American experience has had another big addition lately. Luckily this time it was the chance to experience an American Christmas, which is different from what I have had in my life so far. Winter holidays include New Years Day and Epiphany. They have a different approach and traditions compared to America. 

First, a typical Greek tradition that still lives up to this day is that of the Christmas carols. On Christmas Eve, kids even teenagers, go to houses in order to sing Christmas carols to people. They usually ask them ‘’can we sing to you’’ and then after asking they sing and they are given money. You can think of it as something like the “Greek trick or treat’’ except it’s with money not candy. For kids it’s a big thing as it’s a day they can make money, meet with their friends and have fun. Christmas Day, similar to the U.S., is a chance for family gatherings and great food which usually includes pork.

New Year’s Eve is celebrated usually outside, it’s a great chance for a party. Generally there are carols for New Year’s Eve with the same procedures as Christmas but it’s not as common anymore. New Year’s Day is a big day since we get our presents. The Christian Orthodox version of Santa Claus, Saint Basileus, comes on New Year’s Day. Again it’s a chance for family gatherings with great food. This time dessert is always a special cake called ‘’King’s Cake’’ in which a coin is in it. Whoever gets the piece with the coin has good luck for the rest of the year. Sometimes it can be a pie which personally I prefer but most people have cake.

The whole celebration period lasts for roughly two weeks from Christmas Eve until the Epiphany, which is the Christmas break.  Epiphany is the day that according to the tradition Jesus Christ announced his appearance on Earth. On that day the local priest throws a cross in the city’s waters and whoever manages to get it has blessings for the whole year. This day is a day off for some services.

Greece’s Christmas is clearly dominated by the Christian Orthodox religion and all celebrations are connected to it even though it has faded in the past decades. But still, Christmas is a period for family to get together, get presents and express your love to people that matter to you.