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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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Christmas in Greece

 (Greek News Agenda) Xmas: A Word Of Greek Origin

Where did “Xmas” come from? Some transliterations of Greek spell Christos as Xristos.
The “X” stood in for the first letter of the word Christ (ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ). “Xmas” has been used for hundreds of years in religious writing, where the X represents the Greek letter X (chi).

While in modern times Xmas is regarded as a kind of slang, it was originally considered to be a perfectly respectful abbreviation, especially as it included a form of the cross in the shape of the “X”.

Christmas (“Χριστούγεννα”), the Feast of the Nativity of Jesus is one of the most joyful days of the Greek Orthodox Church.

» Christmas Elves

Kallikantzari are little creatures that live deep down inside the earth and together with the legends of Greece, play an important part in the customs and traditions of this holiday.
From Christmas until the Feast of the Epiphany, residents in Epirus place twelve spindles in front of the fireplace so that the kalikantzari see them and do not climb down the chimney.
On Christmas Eve, in the town of Grevena, the followers place a large log in the corner of the house and set it alight.
As the fire burns, lasting until the Feast of the Epiphany, it protects the family from the kalikantzari.

Greece: International Natural Cosmetics

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Spurred by a trend towards natural products, Greek cosmetics companies are breaking out of their niches and entering the mainstream international market through high-end department stores or their own outlets. Two such firms are Korres (www.korres.com) and Apivita (www.apivita.gr). The Korres homeopathic pharmacy in Athens has blossomed into a large-scale, high-tech company producing safe, effective and affordable body and face potions. Apivita’s cosmetic and healthcare products are based on Greece’s natural foods, flowers, philosophy and traditions, while it has gained reputation as a socially responsible company for its alliance with the World Wildlife Fund and its restoration of the ancient pharmacy at Greece’s Mount Athos Holy Mountain.