Presentation on theme: "Christmas in Greece. Christmas in Greece is a time for joy and happiness. It's one of the greatest religious holidays of the year, solemn and festive."— Presentation transcript:
Christmas in Greece
Christmas in Greece is a time for joy and happiness. It's one of the greatest religious holidays of the year, solemn and festive at the same time.
In the long past, Christmas used to be a quiet family holiday marked with few special observances and no distinctive rituals. But things have changed over the years mainly due to the western influence of commercialisation. Now, Christmas is probably the most cherished holiday, especially by children.
In early December, every single Greek city or town is decorated with lights.
Artificial fir trees stand stately in the middle of the most crowded public spots, so that all people can admire them.
Shopkeepers decorate their shop windows with lavish ornaments adding, thus, to the festive Christmas atmosphere.
Exciting live stage acts and shows often take place in central parts of the towns where skillful entertainers, musicians and dancers present short amusing performances along the illuminated streets.
However, this year the city decoration is not as rich and glamorous as it was before. The people in the streets are fewer in number and many of them unable to afford even the smallest Christmas gift for their children. In the centre of Athens, Christmas happenings are rare.
Moreover, the largest Christmas tree in Europe which used to tower above Syntagma (Constitution) Square gave its place to another tree in a much smaller square, its branches loaded with cans of milk for the children whose parents have no jobs.
Although Greek people lead one of the worst periods in the country's history, Christmas is celebrated with the glory it deserves, as it is mostly a feast of the Heart. The spirit of Christmas is more lively than ever, thanks to the strong family bonds and the traditional customs which revive this time every year. Family gatherings, holy services, carol singing, generous offerings, affectionate feelings make the true meaning of Christmas more apparent!
The household preparations for Christmas start a few weeks before the 25th of Dec. We decorate the Christmas tree with our parents. We hang baubles, angels and other ornaments on its branches while singing Christmas songs. We usually put a big star at the very top of the tree. Then we add the lights. When the tree is ready, we place it next to the window, so that everyone can see it from the street!
Under its branches Santa is going to leave our presents. Our Santa is not Father Christmas from the North Pole but Saint Basil from Caesarea, whose memory is celebrated on New Years Day. So, January 1 st is the official present - giving day for us.
In the living room, vases are filled with mistletoe! Even furniture is decorated with Christmas garlands or lights!
We also decorate the exterior of our houses with Christmas lights, deer, elves and other seasonal decorations.
For our mothers, Christmas is a busy time in the kitchen. They bake the traditional Christmas cookies, kourabiedes and melomakarona. The first are rosewater and fresh butter cookies sprinkled with powdered sugar and the second are cinnamon and clover cookies drenched in honey.
In every Greek home you will find a tray full of these sweets on the dining or the coffee table. We usually put aside some of them for Santa…
We love taking part in the preparation of Christmas sweets!
This morning we made a Christmas cake! Its delicious! Would you like a piece?
On Christmas Eve we take our small metal triangles and go from door to door singing the Kalanta, the Greek Christmas Carols. People give us money or Christmas cookies. Carol singing is repeated on December 31 st (New Years Eve) as well as on January 5 th (Epiphanys Eve) but the carols are different this time!
On Christmas Day we go to church early in the morning. Then, the whole family gets together to celebrate. The Christmas table is set.
We eat roast turkey or pork and adults drink wine. We also eat Christopsomo, a special kind of bread decorated with walnuts. We exchange wishes. We sing and dance.
On New Years Eve - exactly at midnight - we turn off the lights for a few seconds. New Year has arrived! We kiss each other wishing Happy New Year. Outside, the night sky becomes bright and colourful! Its because of the fireworks!
On New Years Day a little boy or girl is chosen to set foot in the house first. They must enter with the right foot to bring luck to the family for the New Year. Smashing a pomegranate across the threshold is also thought to bring good fortune, since its seeds symbolise wealth.
On New Years Day the head of the family slices the New Year Cake (Vassilopita). The one who finds a hidden coin in his/her piece is supposed to enjoy good luck during the new year. This custom goes back to the Byzantine era when St. Basil hid the gold offerings of the citizens in little pies.
At last, the time to open our presents has come!
On the morning of Epiphany (January 6 th ) the blessing of the waters is performed in church. At the end of the morning service, the priest and the people go to a place where there is water: the sea, a lake or a river. The priest throws the holy cross into the water. At the same time men and youths jump into the water and compete for the honour of retrieving the cross.
It is believed that mischievous spirits (Kalikantzari), who appear on earth for 12 days (from Christmas to Epiphany) in order to tease bad people or people who do not keep Christmas traditions, return to the centre of the earth immediately after this ritual.
Although Christmas is over, we would like to sing the Greek Christmas Carol just for you!
As every new year is a new start, its time for us to think how we could help make things better for everyone and set our new years goals. We hope you achieve every single one of them ! HAPPY NEW YEAR!