Christmas is one of the two most important holidays for all Greeks, (the other being Easter!) and it is celebrated in every single home all over the country; a holiday dedicated to close family and good friends, with lots of festive gatherings and meals.
The whole country dresses up in its festive outfit. Christmas boats or trees are lighted up in every single corner and house. Shops are decorated. Christmas lights are everywhere. The feeling is wonderful.
Greeks leave the big cities in most cases around the 23rd of December and go to join their families and friends in the countryside or the islands where the festivities usually begin with the Christmas Carols that as per tradition are sung on Christmas Eve (Dec 24). Groups of friends of all kind of ages go around from house to house, ring the doorbells and ask “Na ta poume”? (May we sing??) And everyone opens the doors wide and let them sing their song treating them with Kourabiedes, Melomakarona and sometimes even small amounts of money.
On Christmas day (Dec 25th) they all gather for the festive meal at a family member’s house which in most cases will be the house of parents of grandparents; and all generations and ages are present, mingling, catching up and feeling happy to be together! A very special gathering that lasts for many many hours.
On Boxing Day (Dec 26th) which for the Greeks is just “Christmas 2nd day”, another festive meal is to take place at another family member’s house.
And all kinds of similar festivities go on till New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day when Agios Vassilis (The Greek Santa) arrives with lots of gifts for all the kids.
It is quite natural to assume that the Greek Christmas is not known as widely as Easter since this is the time of the year there are no tourists around that could spread the news to the world.