GREECE

The festive period lasts from November 30 to January 6 (Epiphany) on the Greek calendar. December 25 and 26 is a public holiday in Greece. In Greek, Christmas is known as Christougena (Χριστούγεννα) and people wish Merry Christmas to each other saying Kala Christougenna (Καλά Χριστούγεννα). Most families set up Christmas trees and shops have decorations and lights. Presents are placed under the Christmas tree and are opened on January 1, St Basil’s Day. In Greek tradition, Basil’s (of Caesarea) name was given to Father Christmas and is supposed to visit children and give presents on January 1 (when Basil’s memory is celebrated), unlike other European traditions, where this person is Saint Nicholas and comes every Christmas. Carol singing is another tradition on Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The Christmas meal usually includes lamb or pork and desserts such as kourabies (κουραμπιές) and melomakarona (μελομακάρονα). Other Christmas and New Year foods include ‘Baklava’ (sweet pastry), Kataifi (pastry), Theeples (a kind of fried pastry).
Christmas Eve on December 24 and 23 housewives make the Christmas cake with a cross in the middle and avgokouloures which are subsequently offered to the elderly and children. Children singing carols from house to house either before or on Christmas Day. People go to church early the morning of Christmas on December 25. Christmas morning after church there is the practice to become the “pork batches,” served with wine to open the appetite, and “thick,” done by Eve, which is boiled pork with plenty of lemon that is left to clot overnight. The pork-food is in the hallmark of Greek Christmas. In many Greek cities and ports like Thessaloniki, Volos, Patra, the Greek Islands etc., it is decorated the traditional Christmas boat. And in many central squares of the country a big Christmas tree, where many of the Christmas festivals take place.

Some of the Christmas Festivals in Greece are “Ρουγκατσάρια” Rugatsariα, where all the residents of the city of Kastoria are delivered in a separate Dionysian revelry, with the accompaniment of folk melodies bodies all traditional musical sounds of the area. This ancient habit, whose origin is lost in time. In Mani there are beliefs about demonic and other supernatural beings, who come from the Twelve Days of Christ as the Epiphany. These are the goblins and say that they are the descendants God Pan or Satyrs, who jumped from the mythology in the Christian life.

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