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Christmas traditions of the island of Crete.

Christmas traditions of Crete

2015 Christmas Menu in Galaxy Hotel Iraklio – Click to find out more: http://goo.gl/IvxqTg

Christmas is near. And with it the glamour, the charm and the holiday spirit that usually comes at this time of year. Why would Crete be any different? The Christmas traditions of Crete are as unique as this unrivaled island itself, but they also incorporate the fervor of the more familiar “western” holiday spirit.  Christmas lights illuminate the streets, holiday trees with joyful ornaments embellish every square, every store and every home, but every here and there you will also encounter a decorated little boat, a more traditional Christmas decoration in Crete, the history of which is deeply intertwined with the sea.

Christmas traditions of Crete also include the “calanda”, Christmas carols that children sing door to door on Christmas Eve, accompanied by the rhythmical chimes of the little “trigona”- music triangles. For the blessing and joy their singing spreads around, they are rewarded with money, the Christmas “bonamas” as well as homemade sweets and cakes.

There is a wide variety of sweets and treats prepared in celebration of Christmas in Crete. The most famous, delicious and definitely worth a try are “kourambiedes”, almond bisquits snowed over with confectioner’s sugar, and “melomakarona” honey cakes that you just can’t eat enough of!  For Christmas day, every housewife prepares a slightly sweet, buttery bread called “Christopsomo”, as in the bread of Christ, full of the seasonal aroma of cloves, cinnamon, walnuts and orange. Another food related tradition of Crete is the fattening and consequent slaughtering of a “choiros”, a pig whose meat will provide the Christmas Day meal in the form of lukanika, apakia, syglina, tsiladia, omathies and tsigarides, all traditional, delectable Cretan Christmas dishes.

Another distinctive Christmas tradition of Crete, based on longstanding superstitions is keeping a log continuously burning in the fireplace for the entire twelve days of Christmas. This is to prevent “Kalikantzaroi “, the feared Christmas goblins from coming down the chimney and causing havoc around the house.

Every day of this joyous season is celebrated with love and hospitality all around the island and everyone, whether a local or a visitor is engulfed with the exuberance and zest of Christmas time, proving once again that Crete is a destination suitable for all times of the year.

So visit Crete and have a Merry Merry Christmas, or, as we say in Greek: Kalá Hristougenna!!!