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Hellenic Christmas

  » Sweets & Treats (GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

In the past, the honey cookies (melomakarona) were made exclusively for Christmas, while sugar cookies with almonds, or kourabiedes, were prepared for the New Year.

Today, though, this distinction is not observed anymore and both melomakarona and kourabiedes are prepared and consumed throughout the festive season. Another traditional custom that dates back to the Byzantine times is the slicing of the Vassilopita (Basil’s cake or New Year Cake). The person who finds the hidden coin in his/her slice of the cake, is considered to be lucky for the rest of the year.

» “Kalanda” or Carols

The singing of Christmas carols (or kalanda, in Greek) is a custom which is preserved in its entirety to this day.

On Christmas and New Year Eve, children go from house to house in groups of two or more singing the carols, accompanied usually by the sounds of a musical instrument the “triangle,” but also of guitars, accordions, lyres or harmonicas. Until some time ago they were rewarded with pastries but nowadays they are usually given money. Listen to some sound extracts with Greek Christmas carols (Kalanda)  from different parts of Greece. Thrace & Epirus & Ikaria Island

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City of Athens Launches Chrismas Events Tomorrow

dhmos-athinasCity of Athens Christmas and New Year festivities will commence tomorrow, Tuesday, December 16, with the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree at Syntagma Square at 19:30. The festivities programme had been suspended due to recent tragic events.
Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis assures all Athens citizens that the festive events will take place in order to assist the city to find its rhythm once again and bring smiles mostly to the faces of young children.
City of Athens teams are waging a “battle” with time in order to repair damages and rebuild the festive scene at Syntagma Square from scratch.
Mayor Kaklamanis invites all Athens citizens to attend the launch of Christmas events and, together, convey the message that “Athens will live on and celebrate Christmas”.
Syntagma Square: The centre of the celebration
Syntagma Square will be filled with the melodies of the City of Athens Philharmonic Orchestra and songs of the Spyros Lambrou Children’s Choir, until the moment Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis gives the signal for the lighting of the Christmas tree and illumination of the city with festive lights.
Fireworks will light up Athens skies, making the start of the celebration, a celebration that will reach even the smallest city neighbourhood.
The City of Athens Music Ensembles Big Band will then stage a concert at the square.
For three full weeks Syntagma Square will be transformed into a festive scene with special structures, games and the magic carousel. Individuals of all ages will have the opportunity to enjoy a series of music and art events featuring classic and jazz melodies, Christmas songs from around the world, Byzantine hymns, ethnic music and traditional dances, to take place on a specially-built stage. The Municipality’s young friends can expect plenty of surprises and a range of educational and entertainment activities.