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greekboatMerry Christmas in Greek is Kala Christouyenna.

Our first Christmas in Crete (2008), was a bit of a non-event, as the pound had dropped against the euro, and was almost par, so money was a big issue.

We had received a few cards from family & friends in the UK, so we had them pined to the door of the apartment, we didn't even have a Christmas tree, or any decorations up.

It was really cold, and it was even colder in our unheated apartment!!!

On Christmas eve, I went to the bank, and the link between Crete and the UK was down, so that meant no money, so after a quick run back to the house, we gathered up every cent we could find, also the empty beer bottles, and managed to scrape together about 10 Euros. Back at the shop, I managed to get the shopping that we needed.

So that was our first Christmas in Crete!!!!

Our Christmas Menu:

  • Lentil Soup
  • Lemon Chicken,
  • Potato Salad
  • Garlic Mushrooms
  • A bottle of Brandy

decorated christopsomoThe Greeks do not celebrate Christmas the same way as we do, In the UK, on Christmas Day we have the family around us, and we have a huge meal, and exchange presents, play silly games, have to much to eat and drink.

In Greece Christmas is the second most important religious holiday, after Easter. It is usually celebrated with quiet church services, family gatherings and Name Day parties. Christmas is celebrated on the 25th December, but presents are usually given to children on January 1st, St. Basil's Day (Agios Vassilis - Father Christmas).

In Western European countries St. Nicholas is celebrated as a great gift-giver, and his name is given to Father Christmas, who is supposed to visit children to give presents at Christmas.

stnickIn Greece St Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, and 6th December is St. Nicholas Day. In centuries of Greek folklore, Nicholas was seen as "The Lord of the Sea'. In modern Greece, he is still easily among the most recognisable saints and December 6 finds many cities celebrating their patron saint. He is also the patron saint of all of Greece.In the past there used to be present giving on this day, and boats were decorated instead of Christmas Trees. The decorated boats are still seen in some places, but have mainly given way to the western tradition of the Christmas tree.

In Greek tradition St. Basil (Agios Vassilis) name has been given to Father Christmas. St Vassilis Day is celebrated on the 1st January, therefore the Greek Agios Vassilis ' Father Christmas' visits children on New Year's Day to give their presents.

Christmas is becoming more commercialised in Greece and the shops are full of tinsel and trimmings from November. A week or two before Christmas most Cretan’s decorate Christmas trees in their homes and many also have an impressive array of lights hung outside on balconies and in gardens. The town streets and villages are also well decorated with Christmas lights.

On Christmas Eve children go from house to house singing carols, the Kalanda'

Christmas Day is usually spent with family and the traditional Christmas dinner is roast lamb, pork or turkey, usually without the trimmings! Or fricassee - lamb or pork cooked with egg and lemon sauce. Loaves of 'christopsomo' ('Christ bread' - large sweet loaves) are usually on the Christmas table, along with Christmas biscuits - melomakarana (sweet honey covered biscuits) and kourabiedes (icing sugar -coated biscuits).

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