You will be surprised to hear that the Greek Christmas tree is a Boat. As the Tree is not exactly a Greek Christmas symbol, although year after year it is entering more and more people's homes.
As Greece is surrounded by with its six thousand islands, naturally, Greeks have a long and illustrious history as seafarers. And this is why it is easy to understand that Christmas traditions are of course a tribute to the sea as well.
The Greek tradition is for houses to be decorated with sailing boats which are beautifully illuminated and of various sizes. So if you are strolling through a Greek town at Christmas time gives visitors a warm atmosphere where an incredible mix of traditional and contemporary ornaments intertwines.
The house, every shop, every square, every street conveys wonderful emotions.
But as well other Christmas customs such as singing carols, and exchanging gifts, from Western countries, have also become universal in Greece.
Christopsomo, the bread of Christ, or Christ’s bread—has been used to signify and celebrate Christ’s birth probably since early Byzantine times, if not earlier. Great care goes into the annual preparation of Christopsomo in many Greek Orthodox homes. Only the best ingredients are to be used, and, according to tradition, no expense should be spared in making this sweet, light, yet rich, spice-infused bread. Reflecting its religious inspiration, Christopsomo is round, as a symbol of eternity, the passing of this life, and the hope of life everlasting through Christ.
People in Greece exchange presents with each other on New Year’s Eve.
New Year’s Day is also the feast of Agios Vassileios, or St. Basil, who is the Greek counterpart of Santa Claus. He enters through the chimney on New Year’s Eve to place his presents under the Christmas tree. The Agios Vassileios brings children their presents and ushers in the New Year in good wishes with all the family gathered in the house around the Christmas tree, exchanging presents and wishes.
On New Year’s morning, it is the tradition that the family father breaks a pomegranate at the entrance of the house. The broken pomegranate, thrown down
with force breaks, and the seeds spread throughout the house. There is a sentence being said “In good health, happiness and joy in the new year and as many seeds the pomegranate has, this many large bills to have in our pockets all year round.” The stronger and more beautiful the seeds of the broken pomegranate are, the happier and more blessed will be the days of the new year.
Traveling to Greece for Christmas
The country offers plenty of choices to spend Christmas and enjoy all the traditions Greece has to offer.
The illuminated central squares of Athens and streets with music from all corners of the city – hotels, shops, cafes, and restaurants – are shining with thousands of twinkling fairy lights. And of course, Syntagma Square is the heart of the celebrations.
Or just take a winter stroll through gorgeous villages and forests in Pelion or Elati if there’s an area of Greece that can compete with the Alps.
As per Greek traditions connected with their Orthodox religion, Christmas is a time for family reunions and celebrations that last up to twelve days until January 6th.
We are wishing you and your loved ones καλά Χριστούγεννα