6 Greek Holidays – And What to Eat For Them

6 Greek Holidays – And What to Eat For Them

Holidays are important occasions in Greece. Enjoying good food with family and friends is a key part of any celebration. Greek holidays are usually influenced by the Greek Orthodox religion. They sometimes last for several days and many involve periods of fasting followed by periods of eating delicious, traditional Greek food. 

Here’s a closer look at 6 well-known Greek holidays:

Christmas

Christmas in Greece is marked by a period of fasting from mid-November until Christmas Eve. After the traditional Christmas Eve church service, families enjoy meals that include Greek soup (avgolemono), Christopsomo bread (a sacred sweet loaf), pork, lamb, fish, stuffed cabbage, and a variety of delightful sweets. Almond (kourabiedes) or honey cookies (melomakarona) and baklava are especially enjoyed during the Christmas season, which lasts 12 days in Greece. 

Saint Basil’s Day

In Greece, Saint Basil’s Day — a day to commemorate St. Basil — coincides with the beginning of the new year. Greek families celebrate this turning of the calendar with religious services and food meant to bring good fortune. Meals consisting of pasta or tomatoes are popular at the start of the new year, but perhaps the most exciting food of the day is the vasilopita. Vasilopita is a Greek new year bread or cake that is baked with a coin inside. The person who is served the cake slice that contains the coin is said to be able to look forward to a new year of especially good fortune and luck. 

Carnival

Carnival season is similar to Mardi Gras. In Greece, Carnival begins just before Lent. There are specific weeks and days for eating certain foods, like meat and cheese, in preparation for the fasting period. During Carnival, depending on the day, you could eat everything from galatopita (a custard or milk pie) to koliva (a boiled wheat dish for All Souls’ Day during Carnival). 

Easter

In Greece, Easter meals are served following the Lent fasting period. Easter is considered to be one of the most celebratory times in Greece and this is reflected in the carefully chosen foods. Appetizers (such as Greek olives, tzatziki, and cheese dishes), eggs that have been dyed red, lamb, spanakopita (spinach pie), and traditional Greek sweets can be found on the Easter meal table. Buttery cookies (called koulourakia) and tsoureki (Greek Easter bread) are dessert staples.

Assumption

Assumption is a religious celebration of the Virgin Mary that is held on August 15th. While kakavia (Greek fisherman’s soup) is a popular food served on certain Greek islands during Assumption, much of the food that is served during this time is meatless. Vegetable and fruit-based meals, along with bread, are commonplace during the Assumption. If you happen to be in Greece during this special holiday, then you’ll likely see a variety of food and drink being served well past the evening hours.

Greek Name Days

In Greece, children traditionally share first names with grandparents. Usually, these names are also shared with a Greek Orthodox saint. Each saint has a recognized day of celebration, and it is on those days when people who have the same name as the saint have what looks to outsiders as a kind of birthday party. In fact, name days are actually far more common in Greece than birthday parties. While the traditional birthday cake isn’t served, the name day celebrant is usually gifted with traditional sweet and tasty Greek desserts. 

Spend the Holidays with Go Greek

Go Greek serves authentic, delicious Greek food. Our menu includes fresh Greek favorites, including villager salad, avgolemono, tzatziki, melitzana, and much more. We even offer catering

Contact Go Greek today for your next holiday party or stop in for a bite on 7th Street in Garden City today.