5 Greek Holiday Traditions

5 Greek Holiday Traditions

Greek culture is filled with traditions dating back hundreds of years, especially when it comes to month of December. In the days leading up to and following Christmas and New Year’s Day, there is a wide assortment of festivities featuring special food, desserts, ceremonies, and more. Whether you want to celebrate your Greek heritage this December or are interested in international Christmas festivities, here are 5 unique Greek holiday traditions to explore:

1. Carols

Christmas carols are far from a new tradition. Greece is one of many cultures that enjoys carols as part of the holiday season. Traditionally, children would go in groups from one house door to another singing carols on the morning of Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. The carols vary from region to region, but the common theme is joyful lyrics wishing luck and prosperity to families. Additionally, children usually bring along little metal triangles and drums to play during the doorstep performances. 

2. The Christmas Boat

The Christmas Boat

You will surely find decorated Christmas trees in Greece, but you may also see decorated boats. As a country with strong ties to the sea, this tradition makes sense. The maritime custom survives mostly in seaside towns and islands. There, people decorate these Christmas boats in town squares. Meanwhile, the tradition of decorating trees is a foreign custom. It was brought over by the Bavarian King Otto, the first kind of Greece. Today, you will find fir trees decorated in Greek homes and squares in mountainous regions. 

3. Pomegranate 

The pomegranate has always been a symbol of good fortune, youth, and fertility. With that being said, many Greek villages incorporate the fruit into a New Year’s Day tradition. The householder will stand outside the front door and break a pomegranate by smashing it on the floor. The seeds inherently spread everywhere, which symbolizes the spreading of happiness and good health to family members.

4. St. Basil’s Cake

St. Basil’s Cake, called vasilopita in Greek, is a must-have for any Greek household on New Year’s Eve. Most families cut the cake right after the dawn of the New Year at midnight, but some households opt to save the cake for New Year’s Day lunch. The cake is dedicated to St. Basil – a Santa Claus figure in the Greek tradition. However, he brings gifts to children the first night of the new year rather than the night of Christmas Eve. The cake traditionally has a golden coin inside. The person who finds the coin is crowned lucky for the entire year to come. 

The cutting of the cake is also symbolic. The first piece is for Christ, the second for the Virgin Mary, and the third for the house. Then the head of the household cuts pieces for members of the table in age order. 

5. Kourabiedes

Kourabiedes

Although Kourabiedes, known as Greek wedding cookies, are served during Easter and Christenings, they are also a Christmas staple. The Christmas iterations sometimes include a clove baked into the middle to represent the spices the three magi brought to Jesus Christ. The cookies are a rich, shortbread pastry made of flour, sugar, butter, and almonds covered in powdered sugar. Typically, large batches are made in Greek households in order to make the sweets last all holiday season. Fortunately, you can pick up an order (pictured above) conveniently at Go Greek this holiday season!

Make Go Greek a New Holiday Tradition This Season!

If you’re looking for some delicious cuisine to make your holiday party a truly special occasion, consider ordering everything you need from Go Greek! All of our fresh, authentic dishes are made from scratch – including our delectable kourabiedes. Visit our page on EZcater to find out more about how to place a catering order today!