Merry Christmas!


Ad Honorem
Aug 2009
Athens, Greece
Merry Christmas to all Historumites and to your loved ones, I wish you all many happy years.

Since there is a discussion about traditions, in Greece, and perhaps in other Orthodox countries as well, we don't celebrate St. Claus, we celebrate St. Basil. In Orthodox tradition it is St. Basil that brings the gifts, not at Christmas, but in New Year's eve (1st of January is St. Basil's day).

In Greek tradition, Basil brings gifts to children every January 1 (St Basil's Day). It is traditional on St Basil's Day to serve vasilopita, a rich bread baked with a coin inside. It is customary on his feast day to visit the homes of friends and relatives, to sing New Year's carols, and to set an extra place at the table for Saint Basil. Basil, being born into a wealthy family, gave away all his possessions to the poor, the underprivileged, those in need, and children.[51] For Greeks and others in the Orthodox tradition, Basil is the saint associated with Santa Claus as opposed to the western tradition of St Nicholas.
Basil of Caesarea - Wikipedia

By the way, vasilopita that was mentioned above is delicious (totally and absolutely) and whoever gets the piece with the coin will supposedly get good luck for the next year.
Vasilopita - Wikipedia

Back to the gift-bearing saints, though St. Basil is the appropriate one here, the influence of the imported St. Claus (with all his trappings, red and white clothes, reindeer, chimney descend, etc) is so strong that there has been a mix of both traditions. Whenever a Greek sees what a westerner calls St. Claus, he thinks and says St. Basil :D, who apparently has come to abandon his plain, stern church clothes for the fancy red and white ones. Such is the power of mass media and pop culture. Also, there is some confusion as to when the gifts are received. I grew up expecting them in New Year's eve, but nowadays many kids expect them in Christmas' eve. And some lucky ones expect them in both nights!

The tradition of Christmas tree is also an imported one here. Nowadays, there are lit-up Christmas trees wherever you look (and many lit-up forest trees during summer, but that's another story :D), but the custom here was to decorate ships and boats, a tradition that lives up to this day. So in many Greek places you will find both, a Christmas tree AND a decorated sea vessel. Of course, the tree is bigger and more impressive, but still, the sea tradition lives on.

Do Greeks Decorate a Christmas Tree?
Oct 2015
Merry Christmas to everyone.
Perhaps I should explain the image on the old Christmas card. Back in the day people in Norway belived a creature called "the nisse" lived in the barn with the animals. The Nisse looked like the ones in the card and were only a couple of feet tall. If the people treated the Nisse well he helped take care of the animals for them, but if not the nisse could create problems on the farm. The Nisse was often seen as a prankster. It was particularely important to treat the Nisse well during Christmas and one should leave warm porride in the barn. We call Santa Claus "Nissen" nowadays, but the Nisse is actually a pre-Christian tradition. 400 000 Norwegians still leave porridege for the Nisse on Christmas Eve.

Likes: Rodger
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