"Merry Christmas" - 1st High School Orestiada, Greece

Updated: Feb 10



"Happy Holidays" and "Merry Christmas" resonate at every meeting point, while the sounds of children's triangles and carols vibrate the atmosphere with happy notes.

With dozens of customs, which marry the Christian traditions with the ancient Greek customs, the inhabitants of the country celebrate one of the most important religious holidays, a few days before the arrival of the new year.




Here are some customs that most are still valid today


The decoration of the ship

A custom that has disappeared in recent years and has been replaced by the Christmas tree.

The ship symbolizes the new voyage of man in life, after the birth of Christ. The children of the sailors who stayed behind made their own toys, which were usually boats. The boat symbolized the children's anticipation for reunion with their relatives, but also their love for the sea. Gradually, the custom of decorating it was established, but due to the fact that it was associated with unpleasant memories, it could not be established as a festive symbol.


THE GOBLINS

During these holy days of the holidays, some black and hairy monsters that have sprung from the bowels of the earth try to enter our houses every night to eat our food and do damage.

And on the days of the Twelfth Day, when Christmas begins and the Lights end, they ascend to earth and woe to anyone who encounters them at night!

According to popular tradition, goblins are various demonic beings. These beings appear on earth on Christmas Eve and torment people throughout the Twelfth Day until the Epiphany, when the waters are sanctified. They are considered deformed and obese, each with red eyes, combed hair, wild beast teeth, leggings or four-legged monkeys. Our grandmothers used to say that they are airy, elves.

According to modern belief, these are "demons" that appear during the Twelfth Day (from 25-12 until January 6).Because from Christmas until the Lights Christ is still unbaptized, he is also "the water unbaptized". This is how goblins find an opportunity to thresh the world. Some people think that goblins are black, ugly, tall and dry. Others say they wear iron shoes. For others, they have red eyes, goat legs and a hairy body. Each of them has a flaw. Another lame, another crooked or one-eyed, another single-legged or crooked-legged, other crooked, crooked-faced, with a hump or tail. They are dichotomous beings and quarrelsome and so they can’t do a job until the end and leave everything in the middle. That is why they can’t harm people, even though this is their great wish.




But no matter how much people disagree about what goblins look like, everyone agrees on one thing:

in their endless stupidity and puppetry.

CAROLS

The carols are a Greek custom that is still alive today with the children going from house to house or in shops of the city two or more together and singing the carols accompanying their song with the triangle or even with guitars, accordion or lyre.



The children go from house to house, knock on the door and ask: "Shall we say it?". If the answer from the householder is positive, then they sing the carols for a few minutes ending with the wish "And of the year. Merry Christmas". The householder rewards them with a certain amount of money, while in the past he offered them melomakarona or kourabiedes. Carols are called on the eve of Christmas, New Year and Lights and are different for every holiday.





Here is the song the children sang

Forty days, forty nights Our Lady was in pain. He was in pain, begging the Archangels, the Hierarchs. You Archangels and Hierarchs to bring myrrh and calf. And the Archangels for myrrh go and the Hierarchs for calf runand until they go and until they come, Our Lady was liberated. Christ is born joy in the world, joy in the world in young men.









These were the carols that were said in the old days in Thrace. Now children are used to saying these carols on Christmas Eve.

Good evening Kings, and if it is your definition, Christ the Divine birth, to say in your mansion. Christ is born today, the city in Bethlehem, the heavens rejoice,



rejoices all. In the cave it is beaten, in the manger of horses, the king of the heavens, and poet of all. In this house we came to, stone stone not to crack, and the householder, a thousand thousand years to live.



Here in Greece we sometimes say carols and New Year's Eve.

New Year and New Year, my tall rosemary

and our good time, church with the holy throne.

Principle where Christ came out holy and spiritual,

on earth, on earth to walk and make us kind.



Santa Claus is coming, and he accepts us all from Caesarea,

You are a noble lady. Base image and paper, fermented confectionery paper and squid

see also with the lad.

The squid wrote, he was telling his fate and the paper speaks,

my dear, my dear Santa.




Here in Greece, housewives make various sweets and meals before Christmas. But here in Thrace there is also the custom with 9 foods.





9 FOODS

On Christmas Eve each house had to have 9 meals, to have the table a lot of food throughout the year. There is also the interpretation that the 9 meals symbolize the places visited by Christ, the Virgin Mary and Joseph during the persecution of Herod.They leave a little of all the food for the "souls" on the table and put it under the icons, for Christ to bless them. According to one version, the 9 foods were pie, honey, wine, saragli, watermelon, melon, apple, garlic and onion. Another version: oily and usually dry food such as halva, olives, unleavened pie, cabbage, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, pickles and salt and pepper. Of course anyone can put whatever food they want but these were the



traditional ones. In many villages, the householder silvered the table by placing an amount under the tablecloth. The money was taken by whoever scraped the table (usually the children). The usual Christmas meal was Babo.



CHRISTMAS BREAD

Christmas bread is the bread that women make in honor of Christ with special care and patience, on Christmas Eve. It is the blessed bread of the Christmas table, as it will support the life of the householder and his family. The shape, form and decoration of this bread are regulated by local customs. In most places, in the middle of the surface of the Christmas bread, they form the point of the cross with dough and at the edges they place almonds and walnuts, which are symbols of rich production. Its decoration is determined even by the profession of housewife. Thus, if he is a farmer or a shepherd, in Christmas bread they form oxen and plows or sheep and goats. In some places, they put a coin or some other sign in the dough, so that the lucky one of the house can be seen during the distribution.


THE BABO

The custom of dad is a custom that most families in Thrace follow to this day, since it has value not only because of tradition, but it is also a delicious food that drives young and old crazy! On Christmas Eve in all the villages of Thrace, the slaughter of pigs began, as that was when the forty-day Christmas fast ended and families could eat meat again. Slaughtering pigs was an old custom, a remnant of a pagan cult. The Romans on December 17-25, sacrificed pigs to Saturn and Demeter, to give the earth good and rich fruits. Nothing was thrown from the slaughtered pig. The "good" pieces of meat were salted and preserved for later, while from the entrails and livers of the pig, ie pieces that had to be eaten immediately, the housewives made this unique dish, Babo, which is the pig's intestine stuffed with meat. rice and spices. In the past, it was baked overnight over low heat to be ready when the family returned from church. That is why bamboo has been established as a traditional Christmas tree.



MELOMAKARONA

Melomakarona is one of the most traditional Greek Christmas sweets. We make the melomakarona and eat them only during the twelve-day festivities. Christmas is something like a continuation of the ancient celebration of the sun that was celebrated in Ancient Greece at the end of December. That is, very simply Christmas replaced in some way the worship of the sun with that of Christ as Godman. According to one version, the melomakarona are essentially a variation of the sweets made by the Ancient Greeks during the winter solstice, that is, on the feast of the Sun! Of course we can’t be sure that these sweets had the same form as today's melomakarona, except that they consisted of the same raw materials (flour, honey, nuts or other nuts). So this sweet passed to our days and became in a way synonymous with Christmas! And because definitely after all that whetted your appetite for melomakarona, let's see how we can make it.






RECIPE FOR MELOMAKARONA

For the syrup:

»500 ml water

»800 gr. sugar

»150 gr. honey

»3 cinnamon sticks



»3 cloves

»1 orange cut in half For the liquid mixture:

»400 ml of orange juice

»400 ml seed oil

»180 ml olive oil

»50 gr. powdered sugar

»1/2 kg Cloves

»2-3 kg cinnamon

»1/4 kg nutmeg

»1 kg soda

»Zest of 2 oranges






For the solid mixture:

»1 kg of flour for all uses

»200 gr. fine semolina Implementation:

We start with the syrup at least 3 hours before we start making the melomakarona so that it has cooled until the melomakarona are ready. To make the syrup, put all the ingredients to boil except the honey. Once it boils, remove from the heat and add the honey. Mix well and let it cool. To make the melomakarona, preheat the oven to 190 degrees. Put the ingredients of the liquid mixture in a large bowl and mix well with a large whisk. In a separate bowl, mix the ingredients of the solids mixture. Add to the first mixture the mixture with solid ingredients and mix gently by hand for a few seconds so as not to cut. Shape the melomakarona into a uniform shape with a diameter of about 3 cm and bake for 20-25 minutes until they become crispy and take on color. Once they are ready, add them as they are hot in the cold syrup and leave them for 10-15 seconds. Then strain them and serve with honey and walnuts.



KOURABIEDES

Kourabiedes is a dessert that belongs to the cookie category and is made from flour, butter, almonds as the case may be and is sprinkled with powdered sugar. It is one of the sweets that characterize the festive period of Christmas in Greece, while in many parts of the country it is offered to guests immediately after the baptism of a child. Here is the recipe:

MATERIALS

900 gr. flour g.o.x.

500 gr. butter, goat, sheep or Corfu type 220 gr. powdered sugar 2 vanillins

1 tbsp. bitter almond liqueur

200 gr. almond fillet, peeled and roasted 1 tbsp. rose water

For serving

300 gr. powdered sugar 1 tbsp. rose water


WORKING OUT

Remove the butter from the refrigerator 2-3 hours earlier and leave it at room temperature to soften.

Preheat the oven to 180o C in air.

Whisk the butter well in the mixer with the whisk for 5 minutes on high speed until it turns white and then add the powdered sugar and continue beating for another 10 minutes. Once the powdered sugar is added, the volume of the butter will drop a little, but with the beating it will swell again. The mixture should finally look like whipped cream. Add the vanilla, the bitter almond and the flower water. Add the roasted almonds after they have cooled. Gradually add the flour, except for the mixer, and mix with a spatula. The dough should break, be like crumbs, but not stick to the hands. We put gloves on our hands and make dough balls the size of a walnut (30 gr.) And place them in a row on a non-stick pan or in oil paste. It is good to make a small dent on each kourabie with our finger to keep the icing longer and not to break while baking. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until they take on a light golden color. Remove the kourabiedes from the oven. Add the roasted almonds after they have cooled. Gradually add the flour, except for the mixer, and mix with a spatula. The dough should break, be like crumbs, but not stick

to the hands. We put gloves on our hands and make dough balls the size of a walnut (30 gr.) And place them in a row on a non-stick pan or in oil paste. It is good to make a small dent on each kourabie with our finger to keep the icing longer and not to break while baking. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until they take on a light golden color.



Remove the kourabiedes from the oven. Carefully take them out of the pan and let them cool on the grill. When they are hot they are very soft. After they cool, sprinkle them with a little flower water.Put powdered sugar in a sieve and when they cool, sprinkle them.


All Christians look forward to Christmas because it is one of the most important and everyone celebrates it differently in their place.



Pechlivanidi Isidora 1o high school Orestiada Customs On Christmas Eve each house had to have 9 meals, to havethe table a lot of food throughout the year. There is also theinterpretation that the 9 meals symbolize the places visited byChrist, the Virgin Mary and Joseph during the persecution ofHerod. They leave a little of all the food for the "souls" on thetable and put it under the icons, for Christ to bless them.




One version: The 9 foods were the pie (to make the grains shiny), the honey (to carry the family members a lot of things throughout the year, like the bees), the wine (to "spread" the family like an arbor), the saragli (so that we always treat our friends "sweetly"),watermelon (to make the production as sweet as watermelon), melon (for the villagers to speak sweetly about the family), apple (for the family members to have red cheeks), garlic (to protect from insect bites), the onion (so that the midwives have a lot of milk).Second version, The 9 dishes were bean soup with pickles, halva, olives, peppers, salt, pepper, saragli and the most important was the Christmas bread which is decorated with shapes of dough such as a cross, a yoke and two stacks. Before the meal begins, they incense the table and the house and give a child the Christmas bread to put on his head and lift it up three times.





Πετρίδου Ιωάννα Πίκη Βασιλική Παλερά Ειρήνη Β΄3





Christmas customs, carolsand the festive dishes are an important part of the Greek tradition that differs from region to region. However, the customs in northern Evros are the core of the Thracian tradition and are different from one village to another. Although some dishes and desserts are the same throughout the country like melomakarona, koorabieetc, here in Evros there are some special ones that you definitely have to try like babo, saragli, baklavaand more.

9 DISHES

A remarkable custom of Christmas in Thrace is that of nine dishes. On Christmas Eve each house had to have 9 dishes, in order to have the table many foods throughout the year. There is also the interpretation that the 9 dishes symbolize the places visited by Christ, the Virgin Mary and Joseph during the persecution of Herod. At the end of the day, they leave some of the leftovers for the "souls" and put it under the icons, so that Christ may bless them. According to one version, the 9 dishes were the pie (to make the grains shiny), the honey (for the family members to carry too many things throughout the year, like bees), the wine (for the family to "spread" like an arbor), the saragli (to always treatkindly to friends), the watermelon (so the production can be as sweet as a watermelon), melon (for fellow villagers to talk with sweet words about the family), apple (for family members to have red cheeks), garlic (to protect themselves from insect bites), onion (for the new mothers to have a lot of milk). Another version is oily and usually dry food (halva, olives, unleavened pie, cabbage, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, pickledcabbage, salt and pepper).This custom continues till nowadays thought the dishes now are a bit different but still suitable for fasting.










BABO/BOOBARI

One of the most popular recipes is that of Babos or else the

boobari. Babo means grandmother, a person with great prestige. In the

past it was baked throughout the night in a slow fire to be ready when the

family would return from the church, so babo has been established as a

traditional meze for Christmas morning. In Christmas Eve in all the villages

of Thrace began the slaughter of pigs, as it was then that the forty-day

fast of Christmas ended and families could consume meat again. Nothing

was thrown from the pig that was slaughtered. The "good" pieces of

meat were salted and preserved for later, while with the pieces that

had to be consumed immediately, the housewives made this unique dish,

babo, which is the intestine of the pig stuffed with meat, rice and spices.





INGREDIENTS

  • 2 kg of pork, preferably from a neck

  • 1 kg of pancetta

  • 1,250 g of calf liver (used in the old days)

  • 2-2.5 cups of rice or bulgur coarsely broken.

  • 2-3 whole onions

  • 1-2 finely chopped onions, black pepper, salt, allspice

  • Vinegar, threads for tying, funnel

  • Intestines.400 gr. Meat per 50-60 cmintestine


METHOD

  1. We wash the intestines very well with lukewarm water, remove fats, put them in the vinegary water for 2-3 hours, wash them again, drain them.


  1. We cut the meat into small pieces, in the old days it was cut with a knifein wood, today, some butchers have the corresponding knife in the meat grinder.


  1. We scald the liver lightly, and finely chop it (with scissors). Add the rice, or the bulgur and the onions to the fine grater, about a cup lukewarm water, salt, black pepper, allspice. Mix them well, leave them 1-2 hours in the refrigerator to unite the flavours.


  1. Then we fill the intestines and tie them to the edges with a thread. With a toothpick, pierce them (so that they do not burst ).




  1. Put 2-3 at a time in a pot (scalding), with a whole onion, (to remove the strong smell), change the water every time and before the boiling begins, remove them.


  1. Now they are ready either for baking or for pot food or in storage for 2-3 days or freezing.


  1. We usually bake them in the oven. We pour some water in the oven pan, cover with aluminium foil at 200°C for 45’. Then we uncover and continue baking for 15’-20’ so they get a nice colour. Another way too cook it is in the pot with onions like a stew.






SARAGLI

A very famous dessert there is in Thrace, is the saragli. Saragli is one

of the best syrupy desserts with a sense of East taste and aroma.

The crunchy pastry sheets break your nose with the strong buttery aroma

and its mouth-watering honey syrup, leaving you with a dreamy

aftertaste you can’t get enough of.





INGREDIENTS

For the pastry sheets 1 glass of water

4 spoons olive oil 2 spoons vinegar

1 table spoonsalt

About 1/2 kg all-purpose flour

We mix all the ingredients together. After it becomes a nice smooth dough, let it rest in the refrigerator for half an hourand then separate it in ten small-size balls.

For the filling

750 gr. sesame seeds (which we have washed, baked and through the blender) If you want the seeds whole, do not proceed to the previous process.

100 grwalnuts finely chopped 1 table spoon cinnamon

1 vanilla powder

The walnuts, cinnamon and vanilla are combined in a mixture with the prepared sesame seeds.


METHOD

Roll out the sheets (10) in diameter of 40 cm. In each sheet pour in 4 tablespoons of the filling. Then roll it unevenly and place it in an oiled baking pan.

After filling them all, pour a cup of cold oil on top.

Bake them in a preheated oven (10’ preheat) for about an hour at 170°. Take them out to cool andprepare the syrup. For the syrup

4 cups of water

2 1/2 cups of sugar 1 cinnamonstick

4 cloves

Boil the syrup for10′ and then we pour it above the saragli.

THE GREEK SHIP

The decoration of the Greek ship was gradually replaced by the decoration of the modern Christmas treeA custom that has declined in the wear and tear of time, but no one seems to have forgotten it is that of the decoration of the traditional Greek ship. According to tradition, the ship symbolizes the new direction that the birth of Christ gives to human life. It is a habit of the old times of our country, when children with love, joy and creative mind made their toys. 50 years ago, that is, until the first post-war decade, we met the boat in many Greek houses and in the hands of children who sang carols.

SANTA CLAUS AND THE KING PIE


The royal pie is a custom that is directly related to the life and work of St. Basil.

In Greek tradition, New Year’s Day is inextricably linked to the feast of St. Basil, a humble Greek saint with a black beard and a dark poor coat, who comes from Caesarea in Cappadocia to bless our family and receive his share of royal pie that we make in his honor (we always cut a piece of Christ, one of the Virgin, one of St. Basil, one of the poor, one of the house, and after ours even if the penny falls to Christ, the Virgin or St. Basil , we give it to the church). According to tradition, the custom of the royal pie originated in Basil the Great, when in order to protect Caesarea in Cappadocia from a raid by other races, he made a fundraiser and collected gold coins and other valuables, to give to the enemies, in order to entice them, so as not to plunder its area. However, in the end, the enemy did not succeed in invading Caesarea and the valuables remained. Then, St. Basil said to make small pies – buns, in which they put a gold coin, or something else from all the valuables that had been collected. These pies were distributed to everyone and everyone kept what happened to them, while a lot happened to the children.

- Georgia Tsanakli