Athens, June 2018

Athens, June 2018


St. Nicholas is important in Greece as the patron saint of sailors. According to Greek tradition, his clothes are drenched with brine, his beard drips with seawater, and his face is covered with perspiration because he has been working hard against the waves to reach sinking ships and rescue them from the angry sea. To members of the Eastern Orthodox Church, as are most Greek Christians, Christmas ranks second to Easter in the roster of important holidays. Yet there are a number of unique customs associated with Christmas that are uniquely Greek.

On Christmas Eve, children travel from house to house offering good wishes and singing kalanda, the equivalent of carols. Often the songs are accompanied by small metal triangles and little clay drums. The children are frequently rewarded with money whereas in earlier times they were given sweets and dried fruits. After 40 days of fasting, the Christmas feast is looked forward to with great anticipation by adults and children alike. Pigs are slaughtered and on almost every table are loaves of christopsomo ("Christ Bread"). This bread is made in large sweet loaves of various shapes and the crusts are engraved and decorated in some way that reflects the family's profession. 

In Greece they would decorate a little boat and Christmas trees back in the days were not commonly used in Greece, but today every house has one. Gifts are exchanged on St. Basil's Day (January 1). Also  they break a pomegranate for good luck on January 1st.

It's kourabiedes time again, and the mellow aroma of melomacarona cookies and diples will soon be filling Greek kitchens worldwide. 

Epiphany (January 6)
This day, takes on a special meaning in Greece. Here, there is a special ceremony of blessing the waters and of the vessels that ply them.
The modern observance at Piraeus, the ancient port of Athens, takes the form of a priest hurling a large crucifix into the waters. Young men brave the cold and compete to retrieve it. These days, the cross is generally attached to a nice, safe long chain, just in case that year's crop of divers is something less than desired.
After the diving, local fishermen bring their boats to be blessed by the priest.
What does all this have to do with Christmas? Orthodox belief says that it was the day of the baptism of Jesus, and that this is where the day's association with water arises.

In Greek: Στα Θεοφάνεια (επίσης Θεοφάνια ή Φώτα), που εορτάζονται στις 6 Ιανουαρίου, τιμούμε και θυμόμαστε την Βάπτιση του Ιησού Χριστού. Η λέξη Θεοφάνεια σημαίνει φανέρωση/αποκάλυψη του Θεού και αναφέρεται στην φανέρωση της Αγίας Τριάδας που έγινε κατά την Βάπτιση του Χριστού.

Σήμερα τα φώτα και ο φωτισμός.

Η χαρά μεγάλη και ο αγιασμός.

Κάτω στον Ιορδάνη τον ποταμό
κάθετ' η κυρά μας η Παναγιά.
Καλημέρα! Καλημέρα!
Καλή σου μέρα αφέντη με την κυρά!
Καλημέρα! Καλημέρα!
Καλή σου μέρα αφέντη με την κυρά!

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