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Holiday Traditions in Greece


Greece celebrates over four dozen different holidays during the course of the year, including the more internationally known holidays such as Christmas and Easter as well as holidays specific to Greek culture.


Furthermore, every church is assigned a Saint, and on that Saint's day, they recognize the person's life with a celebration.


In Greece, people fast for 40 days before Christmas Eve, so the big Christmas feast is a very special treat. Christopsomo, known as "Christ Bread," is made from large sweet loaves and served during the meal.

Families usually decorate the crusts to denote their professions. They also eat figs and kourambiethes, a Greek nut cookie. A popular alternative to the traditional Christmas tree is to place a sprig of basil wrapped around a wooden cross on a piece of wire connected to a shallow wooden bowl.


The biggest part of the Easter celebration is the day before, which is Holy Saturday. Everyone carries an unlit candle to mass at 11:00 p.m.

Crowds gather at these celebrations, and some even have to listen to the celebrant from outside the church via loudspeakers. During the mass, the priest distributes the Holy Light, which comes from Jerusalem, to all of the congregation.

Right before midnight everyone exits the church, and at midnight the priest announces the resurrection of Christ. The Easter Sunday meal consists of lamb on a spit, kokoretsi (lamb or goat intestines) and kalitsounia (cheese cinnamon pastries).

New Year's Day

Often referred to in Greece as the Feast of Saint Basil, some Greeks follow a custom which revolves around the Basilcake or New Year's Cake.

A gold coin is placed inside the cake, and whoever receives the slice with the coin will have good luck for the year, according to tradition.

Different locations have their own special practices as well. In the Emborio Eordaias community and at Polikastro, residents dress up in costumes and fancy clothing, respectively, and go dancing.

Feast of the Epiphany

A major event in Greece, the Epiphany is the celebration of when John the Baptist baptized Jesus. All over the country rivers, lakes and seas are blessed.

Crosses are also put into the water. The most extravagant festivities occur in Piraeus, where a cross is thrown into the sea and young men dive into the water in hopes of being the one to find and return the cross to land.

Labor Day

lso known as May Day or Protomayia, Greece celebrates the coming of spring on May 1st. Everyone simply enjoys nature on this day, and many people venture to the countrysides for picnics and other outdoor activities.

In addition to a number of flower festivals that occur in different parts of the country, individuals also collect flowers and bring them back home in order to make decorative wreaths.