As Christmas weekend is almost here and the New Year is at our doorstep, it’s time to have a sneak peek at how Greeks tend to celebrate these holidays! We are pretty sure that you are already aware of the below, but some details may be of interest.
A very interesting fact is that “Agios Vassilis” brings the gifts (Saint Vassilis – from Caesarea) and he does so on his Name-Day which is celebrated on the 1st of January! So many Greeks tend to exchange gifts on that day, to usher in the New Year, instead of on Christmas morning! Therefore, please don’t jump to the conclusion that your Greek friends forgot to get you a gift; they may just be waiting for 1/1/2023… (fingers crossed)
Another lovely tradition you might come across is the carolers strolling up and down the street on both Christmas and New Year’s Eves. Young children will go from door to door to sing the holiday carols (kalanta) and you’ll hear two different songs, one for each celebration. They will probably be holding a musical triangle most of the time, although you might even see some of them put in more effort and try their luck at another instrument. This charming tradition is somehow impeded by security concerns these days, so it is not so likely that you might hear your doorbell ring early in the morning. But depending on the neighborhood you may see them in shops or in the street. It is customary to tip the carolers.
As far as treats are concerned, you most likely already have tasted μελομακάρονο (plural: melomakarona -from the word meli which means honey) and κουραμπιές (plural: kourabiedes), which are the stars of these holidays. You will see that bakeries are working around the clock serving out trays of these delicious sweets!
We would like to wish you “Χρόνια πολλά” και “Καλή Χρονιά” and that you find the “flouri”, which is the hidden coin inside the βασιλόπιτα (a cake baked in honor of Agios Vassilis (Vassilopita = Vassilis’ pie) and cut in pieces for each member of the household and guests, traditionally on New Year’s Day) because that would mean extra good luck for the new year!