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Greek Christmas time - superstition plays a role

Greek Christmas time - superstition plays an important role

Once again during Christmas time, we passed Alexandroupolis, a small town just before the border with Turkey, where an intermediate stop is almost obligatory, especially since there is a small, interesting Christmas market too.

Once again the differences in the approach of the Christian churches, especially within the Greek Orthodox Church, become quite clear.

When drums, bells and triangels sound in the streets, in the morning of December 24th, Christmas day actually arrived. Completely different from those in the Protestant or Catholic Churches, the children go out with their instruments through the streets and lanes to get the blessings for the houses with their hymns (in Greek called Kalanda). The house owners or even the tenants in return for the praises reward presents to the girls and boys and who is the first to enter an apartment, receives most of the gifts.

On our arrival today, it is still bright day and the Christmas market is rather empty in the late summer warm sunshine, but it quickly cools down towards evening and since we are still set to day temperature, it is getting cold for us too. Now even warming drinks do not really help any longer. But as soon as the lights of the Christmas market turn on, everything changes.

Just in the darkness another old custom is revealed: for twelve nights, so-called Christmas lights are lit, which are kindled for protection against the Kalikanzari, a sort of goblin. These goblins are "appearing" through almost the whole of Greece during the twelve-night period between 24th of December and 6th of January. The goblins hide in the houses, slash down the fireplaces, drive the neighbors' bags, and dance the "Kalikanzari" every night.

The so-called Christoxylo is of particular importance for the Christmas fire. The Christoxylo is the largest and best wood spade that was found throughout the year. It is burnt in the Holy Night to warm the Christ Child.

At the turn of the year, there is a special, peculiar custom: in the so-called Basilius bread, in Greek "Vassilópita", a coin is baked. Anyone who later finds this coin in his bread piece will be blessed with a lot of luck this coming year. And probably the most important difference to the north-west Christmas festival is probably: the children receive their hotly-anticipated gifts on New Year morning, erected by St. Basilius during the night before, next to their beds.

In the course of January 1, the day of St. Basilius, a church teacher who was born at Cappadocia / Turkey around 330 and died on January 1, 379, the Kalanda sounds again. This time, the children tap the householder and his wife with a rod on their backs. Because the happiness is also to be brought by this tradition, the small singers are rewarded with nuts, cakes or money.

Please read as well:

Thessalonica is prepared for Christmas- Greek Tradition

Travel to the Christmas Market in Würzburg

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