Monday, December 26, 2011

Greek Christmas Customs (by Konstantinos Martimianakis)

C H R I S T M A S  T I M E 

Christmas in Greece is not anymore what was  40 years ago. Within the years the growth of world culture and the Western European customs have made the local customs disappear.

Today Christmas appears more impressive and glamorous. The windows of shops are decorated almost one month before, in the cities  litted up the streets and the squares.

The Greeks have fun in clubs, in the bouzouki or they will  watch shows on T.V.

Christmas  day  all members of the family sit in the Christmas table. The day of Christmas is the day that celebrate Manolis or Emmanouil or Manos, Emmanouela, Christos and Christina. Their friends and their relatives will visit them in order to  wish  them.

In old days Christmas was simpler, hotter  close to the real spirit of Christmas. 

A little before Christmas,  the preparations began in order that all to be ready for the big feast. The houses were cleaned  and few days before the Christmas women make  sweets sush as melomakarona, which was naturally eaten the day of Christmas. In the past melomakarona  were exclusively for the Christmas and kourampiedes for the New Year's day. 

Christmas turkey has become very popular as the main dish of the holiday. Traditionally, the main course of Christmas dinner in Greece is roast pork. No matter what the main dish is, one thing is certain: Christmas food in Greece is delicious! The custom of the turkey for Christmas arrived in Europe from Mexico in 1824 A. D. It is now widely used in Greece and has almost replaced the pork meat for holiday fare - but not completely.

Christopsomo is the bread that is made on Christmas Eve, which has a cross carved into the top crust before it is baked. On Christmas Day, the head of the household makes the sign of the cross above the loaf of bread, cuts it and gives a piece to each person at the dining table.

Vasilopita is a cake that is eaten on New Year's Day. Before the cake is baked, a coin covered in foil is placed in it. The New Year is written on top of the cake with almonds. The person who cuts the cake makes the sign of the cross three times above it and then starts serving the pieces, one to each person, the house, Christ, The Virgin Mary and Saint Vasileios. Whoever has the coin in his piece of cake will have luck for the rest of the year.

In olden times in Crete it was the custom for each family in the village to raise a pig, or "hog" (hiros in Greek), which would be slaughtered on Christmas Eve and served as the main holiday dish the next day.On the second day of Christmas the villagers would cut up the pork meat and make:  Sausages, apaki, etc.The Christmas pig was the basic source of meat for many weeks. 
The custom that still exists   today is  the children go  from house in house 2 together or even more and sing the carols accompanying their song with the triangle or even guitars, accordion, Lyra, or mouthorgans.

Today they all buy and decorate christmas trees,   naturally or artificially.
Usually they decorate the trees a few days before Christmas and these remain in the houses until the  Fota.

In Crete's older days  this custom did not exist. They used to decorate small ships.