Happy new year 2010!
When things go according to plan, hubby and I spend Christmas in England and New Year's in Greece, getting the best of both worlds. Christmas is the bigger celebration in England and a relative non-event in Greece. The opposite is true of new year's eve. This is why we try to see in the new year amongst our Greek family and friends, something we decided against this year (I don't know what we were thinking).
Unsurprisingly, we had a very boring new year's eve and an even more boring new year's day - it was so bad that I've promised myself never to spend new year's eve in England again, even if it means I fly out on the 31st December and back on the 1st January!
In case you're wondering why Christmas isn't celebrated much in Greece, this is because in the Eastern Christian (Orthodox) tradition, Christmas isn't considered to be the biggest religious celebration of the year. This position is claimed by Easter, on the basis that it's the ressurection of Christ, not His birth, that made a difference to humankind.
Even Epiphany, which falls on January 6, is considered to be a more important religious feast than Christmas. So from a celebratory point of view, Christmas heralds the start of the holiday season which culminates in Epiphany and has New Year's Eve and New Year's Day in its centre.
Add to this the fact that the Greek Santa Claus brings kids' presents on New Year's Eve rather than Christmas day, and you can see why the 31st December becomes the biggest party day of the year, for children and adults alike.
Preparations are slow before Christmas (no Santa chocolates appearing in Greek supermarkets in September, thank God) but the atmosphere between Christmas and new year is amazing. Everyone's out shopping for new year presents, but not with the same consumerist fervour you see in England. When we lived in Greece we used to go out and do all our shopping in just one day - none of this "147 Shopping Days To Christmas" malarkey that seems to send everyone in the UK in a frenzy round about October time.
Anyway, I digress. The point is that this morning I was feeling rather sorry for myself for not having spent any part of the holiday season in Greece. Then I logged on to Facebook and found that a friend of a friend had posted a load of beautiful photos taken in Athens during December. So here they are: instead of am extra-long new year's day tirade, I've made a photo-post instead.
All photos have been taken by Antonis Toutouzis, who has kindly given me permission to post them on my blog. Many thanks, Antoni, and a happy new year to you!