Christmas in the World. Greece (VIDEO)
By Diana Ungureanu/ Chisinau / Moldova.ORG/ -- In Greece, the birth of Jesus is celebrated on December 25, but Christmas is less important than the Easter.
In the Christmas Eve, a frugal table ends a period of 40 days of Advent. People go to bed early to be present at the religious service that begins at 4 am.
On December 25, when they return from Church, the whole family shares honey, dried fruits and Christopsomo ("the bread of Christ"), a kind of nut pie which the housewife has prepared in the evening and on which they took care to make their fingerprints as a symbol Christ's fingers, a proof that He was born. Christmas table at Greeks also comprises two traditional cakes: Melomakaronas, with syrup and Kourabiedes with honey, covered with sugar flakes.
Christmas and New Year in Greece are holidays rich in superstitions, but also in traditional preparations. The housekeeper never never forget to signify the Christmas bread pressing the dough with the palm of hands before baking it in order to show the children that Jesus blessed the bread in this holy day. In villages, there is cooked a special bread, in the form of cows or sheep, which is divided to the animals by the eldest girl. Winter holidays in Greece are sobre. Meals are frugal. Small bakeries work at maximum time to prepare oval pies that friends and neighbors give to each other.
In Greece, there doesn't the tradition of arranging the Christmas tree, because in Greece there are no fir trees. Their place is taken by an olive twig. In Madytos, a twig of olive tree is fixed in the middle of the Chrstmas cake, which is put in the middle of the table. Around all is decorated with walnuts, apples and oranges. According to tradition, a person stands up and says, "Woman's table, Virgin Mary's table, Jesus was born, everyone enjoys". The cake with the olive twig remains in the middle of the table until Epiphany, when it may be cut off.
Gifts are be divided on Christmas, but on 1 January, when the Greeks celebrate Saint Basil. This holy is the saint who brings gifts. On Christmas Eve, on New Year's Eve and on Epiphany, Greek children go from house to house and sing about the birth of Jesus, about the coming of the New Year and the Baptism of Jesus, for a few coins.