Christmas in Greece: Traditions and customs.

Christmas in Greece: A Celebration of Family, Faith, and Friendship

Christmas in Greece means it’s kourabiedes time again, and the mellow aroma of melomakarona cookies will fill Greek kitchens around the globe.

Christmas in Greece - Kefalonia Villa for Rent - Luxury Villa in Kefalonia
Greek Christmas

Christmas is a great time to enjoy all the festive activities that cities have to offer. From the beautiful lights and displays to the music and merriment in the streets, it’s a time to relax and enjoy quality time with loved ones. There are also plenty of special events and outdoor activities to enjoy, so make the most of this wonderful time of year!           

There are many ways to spend Christmas in Greece, but some of the most popular include going to church, decorating homes and trees with lights and ornaments, giving gifts, and enjoying traditional Greek foods.

Christmas in Greece is a truly special time of year! The country comes alive with festive cheer, and there are plenty of great things to see and do. From enjoying traditional Greek food and drink to exploring the country’s stunning Christmas markets, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So why not plan a trip to Greece this winter and experience the magic for yourself?                                    

When travelling to Greece for Christmas, be sure to experience the festive traditions and customs.

kourabiedes Greek Christmas cookies - Kefalonia Christmas - Amari Villa - Secluded villa in Kefalonia
Christmas Greek Cookies – photo by dimitrasdishes

Greece is a beautiful country to visit during both the summer and winter months. In the areas where it regularly snows, you can explore its winter wonderlands and go skiing. The winter colours are beautiful in places where it doesn’t snow. You’ll love the smell of chestnuts baking from the street vendors and the hot drinks the locals enjoy during this festive time of year, like honey wine and honey raki.

Christmas in Greece: A Celebration of Family, Faith, and Friendship            

Christmas in Greece is a special time of year when family and friends come together to celebrate. The holiday season is filled with traditional Greek food, music, and dance. One of the most popular Christmas traditions in Greece is the custom of making kalanda, which are special Christmas carols that are sung on Christmas Eve.

Spending Christmas in Greece

Greek christmas boat - kefalonia villa for rent with pool
Christmas Boats In Greece – Greekcitytimes

If you’re planning on travelling to Greece over the Christmas period, it’s worth bearing in mind that many businesses, restaurants and other amenities may have reduced hours or be closed completely. Turkey is a key part of Greek Christmas food customs, so it’s not uncommon to find this bird on most Greek Christmas dinner tables. In some areas, people fast before the holiday. In Greece, people are in full swing for Christmas by December 6th, the Feast of St. Nicholas, when presents are exchanged. The Christmas season in Greece lasts through January 6th, the Feast of Epiphany.

Christmas Displays in Greece

Christmas Decorations - Christmas in Kefalonia - Kefalonia villa with pool
Christmas Decoration

The Christmas season is a joyous time of year in Greece! Bright and beautiful Christmas displays can be seen in many public places. These displays bring happiness and holiday cheer to all who see them.

Greek Christmas Elf Lore

Kallikantzaroi.Greek Goblins - Greek Christmas - Villa with Pool in Kefalonia
Kallikantzaroi- Greek Goblins raise hell at Christmas- interesly.com

Although other cultures have Santa’s helpers in the form of elves, the Greek equivalent is not so friendly. Mischievous and even dangerous sprites called the Kallikantzaroi (or Callicantzari) prey upon people only during the twelve days of Christmas, between Christmas itself and Epiphany on January 6th. The Greek elves are believed to vary in the description, with some wearing wooden or iron boots to kick people, and others insisting that they are hooved instead.

Christmas elves are always up to something mischievous, but the Greek equivalent, the Kallikantzaroi (or Callicantzari), are especially dangerous sprites that prey upon people only during the twelve days of Christmas, between Christmas and Epiphany on January 6th.

While other cultures have Christmas elves, the Greek equivalent is not so benign. Mischievous and even dangerous sprites called the Kallikantzaroi (or Callicantzari ), prey upon people only during the twelve days of Christmas, between Christmas itself and Epiphany on January 6th.

Descriptions of them vary, and in one area they are believed to wear wooden or iron boots, the better to kick people, while other areas insist that they are hooved, not booted.

In Greek folklore, elves are almost always male and are often seen in the form of wolves or monkeys. Their twelve days of power figure prominently in a “wicked stepmother” story, in which a young girl is forced to walk to a mill alone during the twelve days because her stepmother is hoping the elves will get her.

The Greek Yule Log

Some households keep fires burning through the twelve days to keep the spirits from entering through the chimney. This is an interesting inversion of the visit of Santa Claus in other countries. The “yule log” in this case was originally a massive log set on end in the chimney, burning or at least smoldering, throughout the twelve days.

To keep the mischievous Kallikantzaroi away, people would suspend protective herbs like hyssop, thistle, and asparagus by the fireplace. Other households (perhaps less devout) resorted to bribery, leaving out meat as a more substantial snack than milk and cookies left for Santa in the Western World

Epiphany in Greece

Epiphany in Kefalonia - 6 January - Holiday villa with Pool in Kefalonia
Epiphany in Kefalonia – photo from Facebook.

January 6th is a day of celebration for Greek Orthodox Christians, known as the feast of Epiphany, or Theophania. This day commemorates the baptism of Jesus Christ and is a time of joy and happiness.

The blessing of the waters is a very important ritual for many Christians worldwide. The tradition of throwing the cross into the sea or lake waters is one that is loved by many. Swimmers dive into the water to recover the cross and it is believed that the person who captures the cross and returns it to the priest will be blessed.

How is Christmas Celebrated in Kefalonia?

Christmas in Greece Kefalonia - Luxury Villa Kefalonia

Argostoli at Christmas – Photo from Facebook

Christmas is a very special and festive time of year in Kefalonia just as it is all over Greece. The official celebrations last for 12 days starting on Christmas Day and continuing until 6th January, although the festive season really gets going from the beginning of December. One of the most important Saints in the Greek Orthodox religion is Saint Nicholas, (December 6th) the patron Saint of Sailors.

How to Get the Kefalonia for Christmas

To visit Kefalonia Island during either Christmas or New Year, you have two options: fly from El. Venizelos Airport of Athens to Kefalonia Airport, or get to Kyllini port by bus or car and take the ferry to Poros port. Keep in mind that there are no direct flights from abroad to Kefalonia during winter.

Happy Holidays

How do you say merry Christmas in Greek:

καλά Χριστούγεννα Kala Christougena Merry Christmas