On Christmas Eve, it is customary in the villages to hang garlic braids outside the door of the houses, on which they nail carnations to chase away the bad language that “nails” the happiness of their home.
The front door of the houses is also decorated with a wreath of fir, decorated with Christmas decorations. According to tradition, the wreath brings good luck to the occupants of the house.
The decoration of the ship
A custom that in recent years tends to disappear and has been replaced by the foreign custom of the Christmas tree.
The ship symbolizes the new voyage of man in life, after the birth of Christ. The children of the sailors who stayed behind made their own toys, which were usually boats. The boat symbolized the children’s anticipation for reunion with their relatives, but also their love for the sea. Gradually, the custom of decorating it was established, but due to the fact that it was associated with unpleasant memories, it could not be established as a festive symbol.
The feeding of the fountain
The girls in Thessaly, at Christmas dawn, elsewhere on New Year’s Eve, go to the nearest fountain “to steal the endless water” (endless, that is, unspoken, because they do not utter a word all the way). They smear the fountains of the village with butter and honey, with the wish that the water runs and the prelude to the house in the new year and their life be sweet.
To have a good crop, when they get there, they “feed” it, with various delicacies, such as butter, bread, cheese, legumes or olive branch.
Whichever went to the tap first, she would be the luckiest all year. Then they throw a raspberry leaf and three pebbles in the pitcher, “steal water” and return to their homes again speechless until everyone drinks from the endless water. They sprinkle the same water on all four corners of the house, while scattering all three pebbles in the house.
One of the most important Christmas customs of Thessaly is the slaughter of the pig.
The preparation for the slaughter of the pig was done with great care, while a feast followed until dawn, to repeat the same process the next and the next day. Three or four related families determined in turn which day her pig would be slaughtered. For each slaughter of a large pig, 5-6 men were required, except for children, who were often 20-25 years old. But because all the work had as a consequence the feast and the joy, that is why this day was established as “pigs or pigs”.
After abrasion, the fat begins to be cut and then the meat is cut into small pieces. The fat is melted and stored in large oil containers for use after being frozen by housewives in their meals throughout the year. In most areas of Thessaly, pigs are slaughtered on the day of St. Stephen on December 27, which is why this holiday is called Grounostefanos.
In Thrace, the Sarakatsanes continue to ferment “Christokloura”. Round bun with various designs, representing habits from the past such as sheepfold, string and others. They put honey on it and eat it all together, waiting for the birth of Christ.
Another custom of Thrace is the “Bamousiari”. On the second day of Christmas, two men disguise themselves as Bamusiaraio and the other as his wife. Babousiaraios wears a pumpkin on his face that has holes for his eyes and mouth, sheepskin, and bells hanging in the middle. Organ players with drums, drums and bagpipes accompany them and with their loud music they stir up the village.
In Macedonia, the householder chooses the strongest olive or pine branch from his field and places it in the fireplace of the house. This wood, which is also called “Christoxylo”, is burned for the whole Twelve Days of Christmas (from the day of Christmas until the Lights). According to tradition, the burning of Christoxilos helps Christ to warm himself in the manger of Bethlehem. Every Macedonian tries to burn the Christmas tree of his house up to the Lights.
Another custom of the Macedonians is the “Momogeroi”. In other words, a kind of traditional folk theater that is revived in all the villages where there are refugees from Pontus. The protagonists of these theatrical performances make mimetic movements, while their faces are made up like the skin of the elderly. The performances take place throughout the twelve days of Christmas.
In Pella, the custom of “Kolinda Babo” is revived even today. Residents of the area on the night of December 23 light fires, shouting “Kolinda Babo” which means “slaughter, grandmother.” This is a custom that represents the slaughter of male infants by Herod. Thus the fire informs the inhabitants to beware not only of King Herod, but also of the evils that the new year may hold.
When Christ was born and the shepherds went to worship, it was a dark night. They found a dry oak somewhere and cut its branches. They each took a branch in their hand, set it on fire and filled the dark mountain with happy fires and creaks and clicks. Since then, in the villages of Arta, whoever goes to the neighbor’s house, to say happy birthday, as well as all the married children, who will go to their paternal home, to kiss the hand of their father and mother , to hold a holly branch, or any other tree that burns creaking.
On the street they light it and take it so lit to their paternal house and the dark streets of the village are filled with happy fires and clicks.
Even in Ioannina they do the same. Only there they do not keep the whole branch of the oak tree lit in their hand but they hold in their handful a handful of bay leaves and holly leaves, which they throw in the fireplace, as soon as they enter and say good morning. And when the dry leaves catch fire and start creaking and throwing sparks, they wish: “Lambs, goats, brides and grooms!”
The breaking of the pomegranate
In the Peloponnese, they have the pomegranate breaking. On New Year’s morning the householder goes to church holding his pomegranate to “operate” it. Then, going to his house, he knocks on the front door and, opening it, breaks the pomegranate with force so that his seeds are scattered all over the house. Along with the breaking of the pomegranate, they also give the wish: “with health, happiness and joy in the new year and as many berries as the pomegranate has, so many pounds to have in our pocket all year round”.
In Crete, kneading Christmas bread is a Christmas custom. It is considered a whole ritual, and the best materials are used for its preparation. The housewives form with one half the dough, a large bun while with the rest a cross to decorate it. Decoratively around this bun of bread, they carve with a knife various designs such as hearts, stars, flowers etc. It is customary for the householder to cut this Christmas bread on Christmas day and distribute it to everyone sitting at the festive table.
In Chios, on New Year’s Eve there is a custom, the royal boats. According to this, the parishes build ships, in miniature. These compete with each other in terms of build quality and similarity to real ships, while the teams, the crew, of each ship sing carols.
The traditional fufoudes
Christmas is celebrated in the city of Kavala with traditional fufoudes and the visit of the Cappadocian Santa Claus. The shopping center of the city on Christmas Eve is reminiscent of a large barbecue. On most sidewalks, but also on the sidewalks, the merchants set up outdoor grills, the so-called foufoudes, and offer to all passers-by grilled meats and local red wine. The traditional foufoudes are set up again on New Year’s Eve, this time on a larger scale and from early noon a big celebration is set up with plenty of wine orchestras and outdoor grills to welcome the new year long before midnight. From Christmas Eve one more custom is revived in the city and specifically in the area of Nea Karvali.
The cave of Ai Giannis in Marathokefala, Kissamos
In the cave of Ai-Giannis in Marathokefala on Christmas Eve a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy is celebrated. The representation of the manger where Christos was born with sheep, shepherds bonfires and the star shining at the top of the cave give a special color. In the past, from Christmas Eve, farmers, shepherds and sailors used to say “how the times fight, and the winds who will be born and who will be baptized”. Whoever is born, whoever prevails and emerges victorious on Christmas day, he will prevail up to the Lights and the whole new year. In the past, on Christmas Eve, housewives would cut branches and shoots and take them home. They put them in a glass of water and waited for them to bloom.
source – aftodioikisi.gr