As we are spending Christmas with some friends here in Crete, I can do no better than give you this delicious post from Letter from Athens about a traditional Greek Christmas.

In the Greek Orthodox tradition, Christmas ranks second to Easter, but it is still a very important holiday. For the devout it is preceded by a period of fasting so food, unsurprisingly, plays a major role in the festivities. But more of that later.

In Greece, Santa Klaus or Father Christmas is Agios Vasilios (Saint Basil) – so gifts are opened on his name day, January first.

On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day children go from house to house singing the Kalanda (carols whose name comes from the Roman calendar, the first days of the month) and accompanying themselves on small metal triangles and sometimes harmonicas. They knock on doors asking ‘Na ta poume?’ – ‘Shall we say them?’ They are rewarded with money, sweets and sometimes dried figs and other fruit. Then the householders wish them ‘Kai tou xronou’ – ‘Again next year’. They will do the same on New Year’s Eve and…

Source: A Greek Christmas | Letters from Athens

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