Greek Christmas Traditions
Christmas is a festival that gets celebrated throughout the world with great enthusiasm and earnest zeal. The land of Greece is also no exception in this respect. In fact in this country holidays are referred primarily to as Christmas holidays combined with New Year and Epiphany. In Greek Christmas Traditions holidays extend for 12 days. A number of rituals and traditions are associated with this festive period – some find their origin in recent past – some search their roots in the text of history.
As per the anecdotes, Greece started observing Christmas on 25th December from 354 A. D. The day was coincided with the birth celebration of the ancient invincible sun deity Mithra, the god of all planetary gods. With the advent of time as people gradually leant towards other deities, the sun god lost his traditional popularity and Christ came up to capture the entire picture.
Beginning the Greek Christmas Celebrations
The colorful celebration of Christmas in Greece witnesses an amalgamation of global ethnicity where western European traditions loom large. From a month prior to the celebration preparations are being taken to decorate the store windows. With city streets and urban squares glittering with ornamental lightings, people set their ways to abroad as well as other suitable corners of the country to enjoy a pure winter holiday. People get involved in merrymaking in different pubs and clubs. Sometimes they stay back at home to spend time by simply watching some Christmas special programs on television. But on the eve of Christmas all family members assemble together at the dining table that is decorated in a dazzling way. On the day of Christmas the name days of Manolis or Manos or Emanuel or Emanuela are also celebrated which is a must in Greek Christmas Traditions.
Greek Christmas Fasting
In Greek Christmas Traditions, it is mandatory to observe a 40-days-long fasting period prior to the festival. It is known as Greek Christmas Fasting. The religious Greeks will not take any kind of animal related food item (like meat, or egg, or other dairy products) during the period. The custom is observed purely because of religious reasons, but some consider it as a healthy practice even.
Greek Christmas Cookies
As the day of Christmas draws near ardent initiatives are taken in every household to make Greek Christmas cookies to mark the end of the fasting period. In the bygone era it was almost mandatory to make honey cookies or melomakarona for the Christmas Eve and sugar cookies or kourabiedes for the New Year. Today however one can not find these Greek Christmas Traditions to get followed so strictly but can see kourabiedes and melomakarona are being prepared for celebrations of Christmas and New Year. Christ Bread or Christopsomo, the bulky sugary loaves of different shapes, is another customary dish on the Christmas Eve. The decoration of the breads reveals the occupation of the family.
Greek Christmas Sacrifice
It has been an age old Greek Christmas tradition in every household of Greece and Crete to sacrifice a pig or hog on the Christmas Eve to have the main food for the next couple of days. On the following day of the Christmas Eve several dishes like Sausages, Omathies, Siglina, Apakia, Tsigarithes, Pihti etc would have been made out of the pork meat. It was a tradition not to waste even a single part of the Christmas hog as the bladder of the pig also was used to be utilized as a valuable gift for the children in the form of a ball. In a number of homes some portions of the slaughtered pig were used as the foundation for various home medicines whereas the rest portions of the pig were utilized for sooth-saying. The slaughterer would have construed the beast’s innards and forecast regarding households, climate and agriculture.
Greek Christmas Carols
Christmas carol is a Greek Christmas tradition that lasts even today. Being accompanied by the rhythms of drums and hymns of guitars, lyres, accordions, harmonicas, triangles etc children even today roam around the households singing the carols. They earn from the houses various sweets, dry fruits and even gifts.
Decorating Greek Christmas Trees
Enchanting carols is a part of Christmas tradition in all the countries. And the Germans love to sing "O Tannenbaum", which is known as "O Christmas Tree". There are numerous other German Christmas carols that add more essence to Christmas celebration. Some of these are Alle Jahre wieder kommt das Christuskind, Am Weihnachtsbaum die Lichter brennen, Ein kleiner weißer Schneemann, Es ist ein Ros entsprungen, Jingle Bells (German).