How to Celebrate a Greek Style Christmas

Greek Christmas at the Monastery of EvangelistriaGreeks celebrate Christmas with a lot of solemnity and somberness and many Greeks regard the festival as only second to Easter in importance.

Even though the Greek Christmas is not as colorful as the Greek Easter, the festival has a rich tradition in the Country that more than compensates for its sobriety. The Advent period is also taken seriously and many people fast for the period (especially those wishing to take communion on Christmas day) by abstaining from eating meat, poultry, eggs and even oil. Here are some pointers to celebrating the festival of Christmas, Greek style.

A few suggestions

  1. Begin to decorate your home a little late - just a few days before Christmas by making the traditional Christmas sweets such as ‘kourabiedhes’ and ‘melomakarana’.
  2. Do not exchange Christmas cards with members of your family or with friends who can be wished in person; instead send cards only to those friends and relatives who live far away.
  3. Decorate a Christmas tree only if you believe in the new fangled innovations but decorate a Christmas ship (Karavaki) which can also be carried around by small children who go out in the streets singing Christmas carols.
  4. Listen to little children singing ‘kalanda’ or carols holding triangles very early on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and on the Eve of Epiphany.
  5. Cook an elaborate Greek Christmas dinner complete with lamb and pork and loaves of ‘christopsomo’ (Christ bread). The Greeks make these large sweet loaves and engrave the crusts in a way so that they reflect the family’s profession.
  6. Keep a small sprig of basil wrapped round a wooden cross in a shallow wooden bowl and sprinkle water to keep the basil fresh. This ritual is bound to keep the bad spirits at bay.


  • Hang up your children’s stockings which will have small gifts in them on the Christmas morning
  • Exchange gifts on New Year (1st January) also known as St. Basil’s Day and not on Christmas morning.


  • Have fun and make merry and don’t get into the intricacies of doing everything just so by following all the Greek traditions.

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