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Christmas Time in Greece

Christmas is one of the most celebrated, if not the most celebrated holiday of the year. It doesn't matter what has happened the rest of the year, how old you are or whether you are male or female, Chritsmas is one of the best loved holidays in the world. If you are living in

Greece or plan to travel to Greece for christmas this year, read on to learn what to expect this christmas and learn how the Greeks celebrate this holiday.
This time of year, you can expect to switch on the television and see back to back films about christmas, especially if you live in the UK or America. Many of these young children do not know any of their national traditions and think that christmas is purely about receiving toys and gifts. Older chidren often prefer to spend time with their friends and gather with their families for long enough to receive their expensive presents, usually the latest gadgets and technology, and don't appreciate the real meaning of the festive season. In Greece however, there are more traditions that have been kept for many years and even the young generation understand the importance of their country's beliefs and traditions.

Christougena, which in Greek means Christmas, is celebrated on the 25th December and is a time when families come together to celebrate together. Greece have their own version of Santa Claus, they call him Saint Nikalaos, who come to their home on Christmas eve to deliver a few small gifts to the children.

The Greek twelve days of Christmas begins at Christmas and continues until January 6th, which is known as the Feast of Epiphany. During these twelve days of Christmas, people keep their fires in their houses burning throughout this period. This is to keep evil spirits away from their homes through their chimneys. Often herbs such as asparagus, thistle or hyssop are hung above the fireplace, because they are considered to be 'protective' herbs, which are an added protection to guard away the evil spirits that are feared. These evil spirits are the nearest equivalent to the Christmas elves from other beleifs. These Greek 'elves' are called Kallikantzari, and are believed to be evil spirits who target people during the twelve days of Christmas. The description of the Kallikantzari varies, but they are usually thought to be male and have hooves or wooden boots, which are better to harm people with. There are many old, wicked fables that are told in Greece reguarding the Kallikantzari, usually about a young girl being snatched by them.

Christmas in Greece is a very religious holiday. Everyone in Greece is fully aware of the beliefs and the story of Christ. People of all ages understand that the true reason for celebrating Christmas, is to celebrate the birth of Christ and is not just about exchanding gifts. The festive season starts on the 6th December, which is the Feast of St. Nicholas day. From this date until the 6th January (Feast of Epiphany), present are exchanged and the Christmas season is in full swing. Although the Greeks celebrate the Christmas holiday for about a month, there are few decorations and displays around, compared to other countries. Christmas is celebrated purely for its religious meaning and not for the decorations, displays and lights. Over the past few years, Athens have hosted a few displays and have decorations around the city. Big, commercialised Christmas displays are not so common in most of Greece, but instead you will hear Christmas carols being sung instead.

So Kala Christougena or Merry Christmas everybody from Quest Greek islands!