In Greece, Christmas is celebrated in all its glory. Every part of the country boasts a plethora of traditions and special customs that have survived over the centuries. If you want to be part of this long-lasting celebration, check out the most popular Greek Christmas traditions and customs. And then choose where you are going to travel this Christmas!
First of all, Christopsomo is a widespread custom across the country. It is the Greek word for the bread of Christ, Christmas bread or Christmas cake. On Christmas Eve, every household gets Christopsomo. When you see Christopsomo, you will notice the Cross on top. It is typically kneaded by the housewives and the head of the family cuts and shares the pieces among the family. This is a representation of Holy Communion. Just like Christ shared bread to his family on Earth.
Christmas carols are known as Kalanta. On Christmas Eve, kids go out and sing the carols. This is an ancient custom and one of the most popular Greek Christmas traditions. From early in the morning, you will see parties of friends with musical instruments visiting the neighborhoods. They go knocking on each door and sing. Caroling is supposed to bring good tidings to the household owners. And the carols always end with wishes of prosperity and health.
Christoxylo is the Christmas wood. This is the wood that keeps burning throughout the holidays. From Christmas Eve to Epiphany, the fireplace is burning vividly with the use of this gigantic firewood. Of course, each family needs to find the right size. In this way, they will be able to burn the wood non-stop. It is crucial that the fireplace has been cleaned of the old ashes. Instead, the new firewood will produce enough ashes to keep the evil spirits away.
The Goblins are widespread all over the world. However, they have a special meaning in Greece. On Christmas Eve, these mischievous creatures go out at night and search for innocent people. They are used to misbehaving and in some parts of Greece (like Skiathos Island) they are known to deafen people who encounter them. Goblins typically live underground. But when the waters are not purified, they can emerge on the surface. And this is when they start their evil actions. According to tradition, Goblins are only scared of the fire. They return underground upon Epiphany, with the water purification.
In Drama and other parts of Northern Greece, an old custom of the Pontians revives. This is one of the most interesting Greek Christmas traditions. Momogeroi are people who mimic the behavior of others. They are dressed like old men and wear fleeces of animals and large, pointy hats. In addition, they have swords or other spears. Walking down the streets from Christmas Eve, they make noise and sing the carols. When different parties of Momogeroi meet, they pretend to fight. Whoever wins is the luckiest!
Lit Bay Leaves or Yew
In Ioannina and other parts of the mainland, people revive another old custom. More specifically, they hold yew or bay leaves and they light them on fire. So when they visit their neighbors, they throw the lit leaves in the fireplace. This is an act of good fortune, since the noise and the smoke will drive all the evil spirits away. Of course, this custom is influenced by the shepherds who went to pay tribute to the New Born King. They did not find the manger and so they lit up leaves. The joyful sparkles and noises are the basis of this lovely tradition.
Endless Greek Christmas Traditions Unveiled
These are just few of the Christmas traditions and customs reviving in Greece. Depending on the part of the country you visit, you will find some truly amazing stories. The locals pay tribute to the legendary past and create a bond with their forefathers. So it is a wonderful experience to visit Greece at Christmas. You will be enchanted by the magical celebrations, the vibrant entertainment and the devoutness all around.And why not combine tradition with wonderful skiing at the finest ski resorts in Greece? The ultimate experience is waiting for you!