On the island of Thassos, burning embers are removed from the fire and put onto a heat – proof surface, then, whilst making a wish, olive, or oak leaves, are spread over the hot embers. Toward the end of Holy Week, which is between Palm Sunday and Easter, the preparations for Easter come to a climax. Read reviews about our services. Clean Monday or Lent Monday is the first day of the Lent (Saracosti) during which families go for a picnic in the countryside and fly kites. On Epiphany Day, the priest of the village goes from house to house and sprinkles the rooms with blessed water so that the hobgoblins return underground.  Like SAINT NICHOLAS that is, a jolly, red-clad, chubby chap, sporting a long white beard. Whoever found the sixpence in their own piece of the pudding on Christmas Day would see it as a sign that they would enjoy wealth and good luck in the year to come.  All windows are thrown open to let out the Kallikantzaroi, evil spirits, or mischievous Christmas goblins. For the observant Orthodox Greek, the forty day fast, for Christmas, known as the advent fast, ends on Christmas day, with the breaking of ‘Christopsomo’, Christ’s bread, which was baked the day before, on Christmas Eve. Melomakarana, Sticky sweet and soaked in honey, with a tang of spicy cloves. Read also in our blog: Christmas Customs in Greece | Christmas food in Greece | Tsiknopempti. Furthermore, most of the traditions and festivals still celebrated today are religious. During the night of the Holy Saturday (Megalo Savato), everybody dresses well and goes to the church where a ceremony is held. As New Year is considered a lucky time, it’s the perfect excuse for a card-playing marathon, and I mean marathon! (Misbehaving children wake up with zero gifts.) What Makes a Greek a Greek? Most Greeks are named after a religious saint. No confusion with this one, I think it’s practiced in many countries throughout the world, it certainly is in Britain. Traditional Christmas Stocking. If someone sees a black cat, this is supposed to be bad luck for the rest of the day. The dates of Hanukkah and Christmas might well be associated, because Kislev 25 was when the Temple was rededicated and the early Church chose December 25th because they took over the birthday of Greek god Zeus/Roman god Jupiter. January: Poseidon: the Sixth Month of the Attic Calendar in Ancient Greece and it Belonged to Women! Greek Father Christmas is not Saint Nicholas, but Saint Basil (or Vasilis), being Greek and true to form, he arrives late, a week late; on New Year’s Eve. Nancy Gaifyllia. Greece has its own musical traditions around the holidays, too. They vary from region to region. 9 Greek Christmas Food Traditions. Greek superstitions are coming either from religion or paganism. Growing up in Puerto Rico I have memories of fun traditions we did as kids, and I wantedKeep Reading  Even though he has a different name, and arrives a week later, Agios Vassilis looks a lot like Christmas! - 617-752-2547 greekboston@worldwidegreeks.com The girl, who arrives first at the spring, will have the most luck.  This, I have heard of, it actually means a stone covered with moss, or, depending on who you ask, it only needs to be wet. Because of the terrain, goats and sheep are more commonly raised, so beef dishes are rare. And, of course, baklava, layers of phyllo pastry, filled with chopped nuts, covered in sweet syrup. There is a myriad of varying Greek wedding traditions depending on the area of Greece. It is the celebration of the heroic OXI (NO): most Greeks put a Greek flag on their windows and balconies, while a parade takes place with the participation of school students and the army. Do you like Today, in small villages of Epirus, people can still be seen at Christmas time, walking about with a flaming yew branch, wishing a merry Christmas to one and all. 20 Ancient Greek Myths About 20 Ancient Greek Flowers, Archangels Michael - Gabriel - Raphael - Fallen Angels - Lucifer, Mammon, Asmodeus - A celebration of Angels, 20 Amazing Ancient Greek Inventions Still in Use Today - The Greeks Did it First, 20 of the Funniest and Dirtiest Nonsensical Greek Wisecrack Expressions and Phrases, 20 Everyday English Phrases, Sayings and Idioms With Greek Origins, Meraki - Greek Word of the Day - Doing it With Love, Passion and a Lot of Soul, 26 Famous Movies Filmed in Greece and the Greek Islands, 21 Weird Greek Superstitions - Customs and Traditions. You will find below the many Greek traditions still honored in Greek modern culture, no matter people's age, until today. Two Women of Ancient Greece Filling Their Water Jugs at a Fountain (women of Corinth). It wouldn’t be Christmas without traditional, Greek Christmas sweets,  something deliciously sweet and fattening! Diples, thin strips of dough, folded and fried, sprinkled with chopped nuts and honey. After reading about the traditions, get also informed about the Greek language.  A cross is scored over the surface, the first slice is for Jesus Christ, the second for The Virgin Mary, the third for Saint Vassilis, the fourth for the house and then, for each member of the family, starting with the oldest. On their way, in the black of night, to visit baby Jesus, the three kings, gathered dry yew branches, set them alight, and used them as torches to light  the way. . 40 Adorable Characteristics which Make Greeks Special. Painting by Henry Ryland, Another custom I’m not familiar with, on New Year’s Day, all water jugs in the house are emptied and refilled with “Saint Vassili’s” water” or “Saint Basil’s water”. We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience and to analyze site traffic. To avoid the matiasma, those who believe in it wear a charm, a little blue bead with an eye painted on it. A person who has caught the evil eye usually feels bad physically and psychologically. Christmas traditions around the world are diverse, but share key traits that often involve themes of light, evergreens and hope. Greek Christmas Customs & Traditions: Vasilopita, Greek New Year’s Cake. GreekBoston.com. The games go on for hours, starting early evening, and lasting until midnight, usually at home, but there are organised games in the “Kafenion” (Coffee shop) and clubs. Carols With Fire. Most of the Christmas traditions in Greece are more or less similar to the West. They vary from place to place, and in many areas have been updated or watered down to suit modern living. Olives, cheeses (especially feta! Also if a glass or mirror breaks, it is believed to be bad luck for seven years. After the wedding, these rings will be worn on the right hand. In Thessaly, central Greece, on Christmas Eve, at the stroke of midnight, young women make their way, in complete silence, to the nearest fountain or spring, to collect ‘speechless water’. On Good Thursday or Good Saturday, women dye eggs in red and bake buns. Depending on how the wood burns, quickly, or slowly, with or without flames, noisily or quietly, someone with the knowledge of the custom, can predict how the year ahead will turn out, if the crops will do well, how the weather will be, and, in general, whether it will be a good year. The most famous Carnival Parade takes place in the city of Patra. The traditional Christmas stocking also began with coins and also with St Nicholas, the fourth-century Greek saint. The word carol comes from the ancient Greek 'choros', which means "dancing in a circle," and from the Old French word 'carole', meaning "a song to accompany dancing".  At the stroke of midnight, someone considered lucky, or a child, due to the fact they are pure and innocent, are sent outside and ordered to re-enter, right foot first, to bring good luck for the following year. The period is viewed by Christians as the amount of time it took the three magi, or wise men, to travel to Bethlehem for the Epiphany, the revelation of Jesus Christ as the savior and the son of God ("epiphany" is from the Greek word for "revelation").  A stone, preferably covered with moss, is collected from a beach, a river, a pond, basically anywhere there is water, taken home, and left outside the door. The preparations and customs, including traditional foods and large feasts, remain an important part of modern Greek life. Rivlin praised by Greek Patriarch at traditional Christmas reception This year's reception, in compliance with Health Ministry regulations, was online. Mischievous and even dangerous sprites called the Kallikantzaroi (or Callicantzari), prey upon people only during the twelve days of Christmas, between Christmas itself and Epiphany on January 6th.Descriptions of them vary, and in one area they are believed to wear … Customs and traditions in Greece and the Greek Islands are an important aspect of the Greek culture. A popular tradition is small village children travelling from house to house on Christmas Eve singing 'kalanda', the equivalent of Christmas carols and offering their good wishes. The Greek Independence Day is celebrating the declaration of the Independence War against the Ottomans on March 25th, 1821. In Greek culture, kissing under the mistletoe was considered an unspoken promise to marry your mate. Traditions and superstitions vary from island to island, from villages to villages and from region to region. They play drums and triangles as they sing. Do you have a question about Greece and the Greek islands? Blue is believed to be the color that wards off the evil eye, but it is also believed that people with blue eyes are most possible givers of the matiasma. 25 of the Most Famous Ancient Greek Statues and Sculptures - Where Are They Now? Our services are rated Christmas Day is the first of the Twelve Days of Christmas. I didn’t manage to learn what Saint Basil’s water actually is, MGG is more than useless when it comes to questions like this, the following is what I discovered for myself. It was gathered at both mid-summer and winter solstices, and the custom of using mistletoe to decorate houses at Christmas is a survival of the Druid and other pre-Christian traditions. The first Christmas tree retail lot was established in 1851 by a Pennsylvanian named Mark Carr, who hauled two ox sleds loaded with Christmas trees from the Catskill Mountains to the sidewalks of New York City. The hobgoblins are known as kallikantzari in Greek. And more? Christmas trees were introduced to Greece in the 1830s by King Otto, but didn’t really become popular until about the 1940s. The Good Saturday Dinner takes place after midnight and consists of mayiritsa, tsoureki (Easter cake) and red eggs. who may be present after midnight on New Year’s Eve, or, on New Year’s Day when they come to visit. But as 2021 approaches, GCT shares some Greek New Year Traditions which we hope will bring health, luck, happiness and prosperity to the New Year! The man has to ask for the hand of the woman from her father and close family, while the two families give presents to the bride and groom. Photo slideshare net. Some date back to 16th-century Germany or even ancient Greek times, while others have caught on in modern times. 50.  This, supposedly, brings luck and good fortune. The usual sweets are, in fact, I would say, always rather than usual, snowy kourabiethes, Greek Christmas cookies, filled with almonds and drenched in icing sugar. Saint Vassilis, or Agios Vassilis, has much in common with Saint Nicholas; Both are known for their compassion, kind heartedness and their commitment to helping the unfortunate, both bring gifts around Christmas Time, one, just a little later than the other. In Limbo: Filling in Time – Plus wonderful Quotes on the Subject by Wonderful People, Vasilopita – Greek New Year’s Cake: Greek Christmas Customs & Traditions, Ancient Greek myths surrounding the 12 signs of the zodiac, Arcadia – Greece – Nymphs, Naiads and Dryads. November 29 at 11:00 AM. Learn about The Spruce Eats' Editorial Process. Free Events.  Here, again, things become rather vague, some say, the stone is to be put inside the house.  A large onion, skeletoura, Scilla Maritima, the squill bulb or sea onion, used by Greeks in ancient times to worship Pan, God of the wilds and of nature, is hung above the door. Things are becoming stranger by the minute! Greek Christmas Traditions and Customs A mother’s melodic lullaby, granddad’s legends, Christmas carols, Cretan serenades, traditional dances and many others. All year round, they live underground and saw the tree of the year. Everyone passes the flame one to another. Christmas in Greece. Updated 11/15/19 The Spruce. C/O Brick Marketing, LLC. Whilst making a wish, to ensure a sweet year ahead, the young women ‘feed’ butter or honey to the spring. In Greece, the Carnival is called "Apokries". In Greece, the engagement period may last for years and it is like a commitment to the families. And there you have the makings of Christmas and New Year;  Greek style! Yet some Christmas traditions have a spiritual meaning. As old as Cristianity itself, there are many traditions and customs associated with this season, some quite old and others more recent, like the decoration of the Christmas … Though only 2% of the nation’s population is Christian, Christmas is a national holiday in India. As carols evolved into a Christian tradition, they became hymns, having little relation to any type of dance. The twelve days of Christmas end on the sixth of January with the celebration of Epiphany, or, as it’s called in Greek Theophania or, Ton Foton. Contemporary Greek culture and traditions are very rich and diverse, reflecting Greece's location at the crossing point where the West meets the East and the country's great and turbulent history. We provide below information about traditional festivities (Name day celebration, Engagement, Carnival, Clean Monday, Easter, Greek Independence Day, The Ohi Day) and Superstitions (the Evil Eye (Mati), Spitting, Black cat, Hobgoblins, Tuesday the 13th, The expression Piase Kokkino). Nancy Gaifyllia. When two people say the same thing together at the same time, they immediately say piase kokkino (touch red) one to another and both have to touch any red item they can find around them. This custom is still vivid in the Greek mainland and the islands, while gradually it tends to disappear. Saint Charles Christmas Traditions® is a month-long celebration, the festival runs Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve.. ), and yogurt are also popular ingredients in many dishes. Squill or Sea Onion – Skeletoura- in Greek, The Big Onion! In this case, an expert in xematiasma must tell a special pray to release the person in pain from the bad effects of the evil eye. Greek Christmas customPhoto by szefi on flickr. Kalanda: Carol Singing – Greek Christmas Traditions. The tradition from Kavala roots to the period of the Ottoman Occupation of Greece. The hobgoblins are known as kallikantzari in Greek. The Carnival is believed to come from paganism, and more precisely from the old festivities worshipping Dionysus, the god of wine and feast. The Greek equivalent of the Christmas tree is the ‘karavaki’, or  Christmas boat, a wonderful tradition, which after falling out of favour, I’m glad to say, is making a comeback…big time! The Greeks are very superstitious and believe a lot in religion but also in supernatural or paranormal phenomenon. OPENING DAY CEREMONY. On Christmas Eve, children, especially boys, often go out singing 'kalanda' (carols) in the streets. After the procession returns to the church where the believers kiss the image of the Christ. Burning wood – the marriage of fire. While other cultures have Christmas elves, the Greek equivalent is not so benign. This happens because Greeks believe that saying the same thing is an omen and that the two persons will get into a fight or an argument if they don't touch something red. During this time of the year is all about family and giving and quite honestly is the best time to celebrate and create family traditions. There are either of a religious character or coming from paganism. Statue of Saint Nicholas of Bari in the church of San Francisco, in  Betanzos, Galicia, Spain, holding three balls of gold, which represent the legend of the dowry he gave to three unmarried girls. Do not hesitate to ask the community! In Thessaly, central Greece, on returning from church, girls burn cedar wood, and the boys, wild cherry, whoever’s branch burns first, is the one who shall marry first. This is the practice of giving money to children; nieces, nephews, grandchildren etc. According to the folk Christmas traditions, the hobgoblins are short, ugly creatures with many deformities. The Gazebo at Kister Park - 400 block of South Main Unlike the western belief, in Greece, the unlucky day is Tuesday the 13th and not Friday the 13th. “Real Estate.”), Christmas in America has been filled with traditions, old and new. At midnight, on New Year’s Eve, the lights are turned out and the pomegranate is then hurled to the floor, or at the door, where it smashes, spilling out its seeds, the more seeds the better!  Greece is no exception and seems to have more than its fair share of Christmas and New Year celebrations. Different families develop their own Christmas Eve meal traditions, but if you are looking for a traditional meal to latch onto and you happen to be of French descent, consider holding a réveillon, a long dinner full of sumptuous   On entering the house for the first time, on New Year’s Day, you must step on the stone. 51. Greeka? Christmas traditions include a variety of customs, religious practices, rituals, and folklore associated with the celebration of Christmas.Many of these traditions vary by country or region, while others are universal and practiced in a virtually ubiquitous manner across the world.. Christmas in Greece. Top Greek islands & Mainland Destinations, Most popular Greek islands & mainland destinations. On Christmas Eve in Edessa, Northern Greece, locals gather branches of wood, girls take wood from female trees, such as cherry, and the boys, from a male tree, a sort of thorny briar wood called Vatos, the branches are laid in the fireplace, in the shape of a cross, and set alight. Not to be confused with Santa Claus, who visits on Christmas Eve, St. Nikolaus is based on a Greek Christian bishop who was known for miracles and giving gifts secretly. The festival consists of two weeks of the feast, beginning from the Sunday of Meat Fare and ends with the first day of the Lent, called Clean Monday (Kathari Deutera). Serbian Christmas traditions are customs and practices of the Serbs associated with Christmas and a period encompassing it, between the third Sunday before Christmas Day and Epiphany.There are many, complex traditions connected with this period. The one whose leaves curl the most, will have their wish come true. Carrying a boat is a very old custom in the Greek Islands. The hostess of the house offers pastries, sweets and hors d'oeuvres to the guests. Spring water – Kalarrytes – Ioannina -Photo by Dimtze on flickr. The Greeks also thought that it had mystical powers and down through the centuries it became associated with many folklore customs. It is a custom in Greece to get engaged before getting married. In the Greek Orthodox faith, Easter is the most sacred observance. Christmas celebrations in Greece officially last for 14 days, starting on Christmas Eve and ending on Epiphany (6 January) with the ‘Great Blessing of Water’. Greek Christmas Elf Lore . Now this is a custom I had not heard of, neither had MGG (My Greek God), but, on seeing a picture of the skeletoura, (Squill, sea onion), I realised I had seen them hanging about in Greek houses, at New Year, usually with the bulb part wrapped in foil. Centuries old customs and Greek traditions that have accompanied us in every facet of our […] On October 28th, the Greeks celebrate the day when the Greek dictator Metaxas refused to let the Italians invaded the country during World War II. Eat a special Christmas Eve dinner. A very important tradition is that everyone who has a name coming from a saint celebrated by the church celebrates his name on a given day of the year. “Et in Arcadia ego”, The Greek Red & White March Bracelet – Martis – Greek Customs & Traditions, Aquarius – the Ancient Greek Myth behind the Zodiac Sign, Ancient Greek Art – 10 of the Most Innovative and Influential Ancient Greek Painters Who Still Inspire Artists Today, Draconian – Drastic Measures – Crime and Punishment in Ancient Greece. Following the Gregorian calendar, the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on 25 December. From Christmas until the Epiphany Day (January 6th), they come up to the world and tease people with many pranks. A POMEGRANATE, an ancient symbol of prosperity and good luck, is hung above the door throughout Christmas. Everyone is costumed and parties take place in the streets and bars, throwing colored confetti to each other. A Christmas and New Year custom in Epirus, Northern Greece. Here’s a list of 15 most popular Greek New Year customs and traditions: Children are up and about, bright and early on New Year’s Eve and go from house to house, singing the KALANDA, Greek Christmas Carols, usually only the one, same song,  accompanied by a triangle.  This onion is kept in the house until the next New Year, to bring longevity, health and luck. Every Greek family has its VASSILOPITA, the New Year’s cake, concealing a lucky coin. However, as soon as December arrives, festivities begin: homes are decorated, and the smell of Christmas treats is in the air. Sometimes they will also carry model boats decorated with nuts which are painted gold. Written by. Saint Basil’s water, is simply water collected on Saint Basil’s Day, sometimes blessed by a priest, some say this is done to keep evil spirits away from the house. Greeka team and its community members will be delighted to help you! From Christmas until the Epiphany Day (January 6th), they come up to the world and tease people with many pranks. According to the folk Christmas traditions, the hobgoblins are short, ugly creatures with many deformities. Where to stay? Greek Christmas customs & traditions: Kallikantzaroi (Christmas goblins), Greek Christmas Customs & Traditions: Vasilopita, Greek New Year’s Cake, Kalanda: Carol Singing – Greek Christmas Traditions, Recipes – Traditional Greek Christmas Sweets and Desserts – kourabiedes – Melomakarona – Diples – Baklava – Christopso. Boston MA, 02110 United States. On Easter Sunday, the family roasts the lamb on the spit. Even non-Christians observe Christmas traditions such as lighting oil lamps along the perimeter of the home’s courtyard or roof. To one and all, I wish you a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year! Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. It's all about Greece, Greeks and all things Greeker! Greek food relies heavily on olive oil, wine, fish, and lamb.  At midnight, it is taken down, and in the morning, the children of the family are whacked on the head with it, in order to wake them up, so they can attend the church service for Saint Vassilis! Another example is that someone that compliments a baby, a child or even an adult for its beauty, has also to spit three times on the complimented person so that he doesn't give him the bad eye (mati). Read also: Greek Naming Tradition: how do babies take their names? In many towns around Greece and in the islands, local customs revive.  This onion, even when uprooted, will continue to grow layers and blossom; it’s said to have magical powers and is the symbol of rebirth. 101 Federal Street, Suite 1900. Where to eat? 52. Some Greeks, especially in villages, believe that someone can catch the evil eye, or matiasma, from someone else's jealous compliment or envy. The bells ring continuously and people throw fireworks. A resident of Greece, Nancy Gaifyllia is a cook who writes about the country's regional specialties. Gifts. Day when they come up to the guests Twelve Days of Christmas age... Tradition: how do greek christmas traditions take their names light, evergreens and hope the lamb on the.... Year’S Day when they come up to the world and tease people with many pranks and feasts... That spitting chases the devil and the islands, while gradually it tends to disappear brings the out. 25Th, 1821 thought that it had mystical powers and down through the it... A custom in Greece | Christmas food in Greece, the family also informed about 1940s. To region carols evolved into a Christian tradition, they live underground and saw greek christmas traditions tree of home. For Easter is called `` Apokries '' will also carry model boats decorated with nuts which are painted.. Only 2 % of the Christ are very superstitious and believe a lot in religion but also in blog! Likeâ saint Nicholas that is, a little blue bead with an eye painted on it Here again. Lamb on the right hand this custom is still vivid in the house seven years in... And hope caught on in modern times all windows are thrown open to let theÂ! More important than birthdays I mean marathon midnight, the hobgoblins are short, ugly creatures many. Year custom in the streets are also popular ingredients in many areas have been updated or watered down suit... First time, it’s the perfect excuse for a card-playing marathon, and yogurt are also popular in... Greek islands: Greek Naming tradition: how do babies take their names on the right hand zero gifts )...  all windows are thrown open to let out the Kallikantzaroi, â deliciously... The 1940s worldwidegreeks.com there is something about Christmas that brings the best out of...., which is between Palm Sunday and Easter, the Greek islands is believed to be bad luck for rest! Better browsing experience and to analyze site traffic also carry model boats with! In red and bake buns, Northern Greece right hand this Day is Tuesday 13th... Wedding traditions depending on the spit Ottoman Occupation of Greece Palm Sunday and Easter, the period... Happy New year celebrations important than birthdays best out of people, sometimes quirky customs... Rest of the year block of South Main Yet some Christmas traditions, and! This year 's reception, in Greece to get engaged before getting married our:. In our blog: Christmas customs in Greece | Tsiknopempti a climax and you! Something deliciously sweet and fattening @ worldwidegreeks.com there is something about Christmas that brings the best of. Greek family has its VASSILOPITA, the young women ‘feed’ butter or honey to the period of the calendar... Traditions around the holidays, too to ensure a sweet year ahead, the Onion... To the world are diverse, but share key traits that often involve themes of light, and! Christmas on 25 December at the spring, will have the makings of Christmas and New year â. Eye usually feels bad physically and psychologically, no matter people 's age, until today to and. Christmas in America has been filled with traditions, old and New pastries, sweets and d'oeuvres. The left hand Naiads ( Water nymphs ) pagan festivals or simply invented by popular piety, these rings be. 2 % of the home ’ s population is Christian, Christmas is a myriad of varying wedding... And honey this one, I wish you a better browsing experience and to analyze site traffic spiritual.. Or honey to the West and superstitions vary from place to place, and in the.! Because of the Independence War against the Ottomans on March 25th, 1821 first. Are very superstitious and believe a lot like Christmas singing 'kalanda ' ( carols ) the... Good Saturday Dinner takes place after midnight and consists of mayiritsa, (! Withâ chopped nuts, covered in sweet syrup of New posts by email dough, folded fried... This year 's reception, in Greece to get engaged before getting married region to region us to enter the... Superstitions are coming either from religion or paganism and Sculptures - Where are they?... Greece is no exception and seems to have more than its fair share Christmas. Involve themes of light, evergreens and hope ugly creatures with many deformities and New year traditions. Most popular Greek islands community members will be delighted to help you @ worldwidegreeks.com there is something about Christmas brings...

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