Thursday, January 01, 2009

Oh Christmas boat, oh Christmas boat...

Greek Christmas celebrations differ from traditional "western" celebrations in two ways: firstly, there is such a thing as a "Christmas boat" and secondly, Santa doesn't arrive on Christmas Day, or even Christmas Eve, but on New Year's Eve. Christmas itself isn't celebrated much, there are no special foods, cakes or traditions associated with it, apart from carol singing (but that takes place throughout the holiday season and isn't specifically linked to Christmas). New Year's Eve is a big family celebration, usually followed by partying until the early hours, clubbing or (in some cases) late night blogging ;-)


Νο one seems to know how the Christmas boat came about, but it's become extremely popular in recent years. Many Greeks decorate a boat as well as a tree at home, and many a city centre boast a Christmas boat alongside, or sometimes instead of, a Christmas tree.


The Greek "Santa Claus" isn't St Nicholas, but St Basil of Caesarea. He's dressed in red and white, looks exactly like the Santa we all know, but brings children their presents on January 1st. Tradition has it that presents are opened a few minutes into the new year, so you have to stay up until gone midnight on New Year's Eve to see what St Basil has put under the tree. No wonder it's the biggest party night of the year!


Mediterranean Kiwi has posted a more detailed account of Greek New Year traditions in her blog. You can read it here.

P.S. It's -6°C/21°F out there at the moment, but very dry. I wish it'd snow.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

olo: kali xronia!! me ygeia

Mediterranean kiwi said...

happy new year tinsie
our greek customs are treasures, but there's really nothing like a peaceful happy christmas with one's family at home
greetings from crete

palmtreefanatic said...

oh how fascinating! Thanks for sharing and Happy new year to you!

Fifi Flowers said...

LOVE the boats! Happy New Year! ENJOY! Fifi

Tinsie said...

Happy new year! Thanks for all your comments :-)

Kate said...

I see our city went all out this year:-) Looks vey nice. Happy New Year to you all. Wishing you all a wonderful 2009 full of blogging

RennyBA's Terella said...

How interesting and readable! Did not know Greek was so different in Xmas celebration - so thanks for sharing and with great pics too!