Celebrating Christmas in many parts of the world means Santa Claus, Christmas tree, presents …
Is this what we do in Greece? In some places yes! But not only!
We also do other things like:
We decorate boat models!
Greece is a maritime nation and as such, it is customary in many islands for the children to decorate boat models instead of a Christmas tree. In old times, kids used to carry them along while they visited houses and sang Christmas Carols; they would put the treats they received for their singing inside the little boats.
We sing the Carols!
Wish making and happy melodies are standard things during the Christmas period and the New Year’s Day! According to tradition, on the Eves of Christmas, New Year’s Day and Epiphany Day [January 6], children visit one neighborhood after the other; they knock on the door and ask: “May we sing the Carols?” By playing their little metal triangles and their drums, sometimes also harmonicas and accordions and on the islands violins and guitars, they ‘rain’ wishes and bring joy on every household.
We have hobgoblins visiting!
Be aware of the hobgoblins: Greece’s hobgoblins are called “kallikántzari”, friendly but troublesome little creatures who look like elves; they surface on Earth only during the 12-day period from Christmas to the Epiphany (January 6). According to the Greek legend, these creatures’ origin is the center of the earth, where their mission is to chop at a huge tree trunk symbolizing the earth’s foundations. While on Earth, they love to hide in people’s houses slipping down the chimney. Being extremely naughty, the “kallikántzari” do things to frighten people, like overturning furniture, devouring Christmas foods, or contaminating the water. Throughout Greece, numerous rituals are performed to keep these hobgoblins away. In some places mothers sprinkle holy water in every room of the house to scare the “kallikántzari” away.
The “kallikántzari” disappear on the day of Epiphany when all the waters are blessed, and they return to the earth’s core.
However, due to the miracle of Christ’s birth, they find the earth’s tree trunk completely restored, so they start their mission to destroy it all over again.
Of course, each region has its own traditions and wherever in Greece you decide to spend your Christmas holidays, you will be surprised of this unknown/unspoiled side of Greece and the Greek people.
Let us show you !