Saturday, December 29, 2007

Oh Christmas boat, oh Christmas boat...


Remember my coffee table with all the junk on? It's been tidied up and has provided a showcase for our Christmas boat. A Christmas what?! I hear you ask.


A Christmas boat is a Greek alternative to the Christmas tree. Νο one seems to know how it came about, but it's become extremely popular in recent years. These days, it's not unusual for Greeks to decorate a boat, as well as a tree, at home, and many a city centre boast a Christmas boat alongside, or even instead of, a Christmas tree. I imagine foreigners who visit Greece over the Christmas and New Year period must be rather perplexed by all the brightly lit boats displayed next to more "traditional" Christmas decorations, such as Santas, stars and well... trees. Our friends were certainly surprised the first time they saw ours, and our neighbour's toddler was positively mesmerised by it.


They were even more surprised when they found out that the Greek Santa Claus isn't St Nicholas, but St Basil of Caesarea, who brings children their presents on January 1st. So I hope you'll forgive my Santa hat and my continued obsession with Christmas, as it's not over yet for me :-)

5 comments:

Karen said...

I love it. Tell us more about the January 1st gift-giving tradition.

Tinsie said...

It's not that dissimilar to the Christmas gift-giving, only it happens at midnight on New Year's Eve.

We have a big party with lots of eating and drinking, then at 1 min. to midnight we turn the lights off and do the countdown. At midnight the lights come back on. We sing a special song, kiss and hug to wish each other a happy new year, cut a special cake which has a lucky charm in it, drink champagne and open our presents. People tend to stay up until the early hours drinking and dancing or playing cards and other games of chance for good luck.

New Year's day is usually spent sleeping off the previous night's excesses ;-)

Betty C. said...

How cool! I've never heard of that. And your table looks so nice and cleaned up -- Christmas decorating is a good way to clear away some of the mess, isn't it?

Kathy said...

More and more Greeks are opting for the traditional Christmas boat instead of the Christmas tree which was introduced by King Otto in 1833.Greeks have been seafarers for thousands of years and the Patron saint of sailors and the sea is St.Nicolas. He is said to have fought through storms and mighty waves to reach sinking ships and rescue men from the deep sea.That is why islanders would decorate a miniature ship made of paper and wood with small lanterns and ornaments on December 6th in honour of his help.It would be kept decorated for 40 days. The boat symolises a full load of riches reaching ones home as well as safe seas for sailors. It is usually placed near the outer door of the house or near the fireplace and the bow should always point to the interior of the house.

Tinsie said...

@ Betty: Absolutely! If only Christmas came twice a year, my place would be a lot more tidy, I can tell you :-)

@ Kathy: Τhanks for this, Kathy - you know more about it than me.