Mykonos, Santorini, and Paros: What is Christmas like in the Cyclades?

Mykonos santa clause Christmas

What if the Christmas season is intertwined with the urban expression of the holidays, where colourful lanterns fill the streets of cities, shops want to impress with their festive decorations, and Santa Clauses set the tempo? Every destination in Greece has its own Christmas customs, with the Cyclades and their islands going back in time before they took on its current, familiar, touristy face.

The customs differ from island to island; they change colour according to the long-standing traditions of each place and its particular historical heritage. Here, the special experience of the big holidays is not limited to the countless natural beauties and the much milder tourist traffic that allows a much more comfortable tour of every corner of the islands.

Common elements run through the days of Christmas: Housewives whitewash their houses and yards and prepare the materials for the pigsties. But there are also the different lines that reduce the travel experience to an identity event, to a relationship that forms between you and the place. There is also the common fear of Goblins, a life-giving fear since it created all the customs around the house's hearth.

santa clause hat

Thus, in cosmopolitan Mykonos, the palm trees (which are quite similar to melomakarona), but also christopsoma, which are offered to animals and people, coexist with the classic pan-Hellenic sweets such as melomakarona and kourabiedes.

Pork lard with greens or cabbage, roast meat in the oven, onion pie with local cheeses, and honey pie with cheese, honey and cinnamon are also dishes "tied" to the tasty, festive offer of the island of the Winds.

On December 27, St. Stephen's Day, a big festival takes place, while on New Year's Eve, a group of "carolers" of the Mykonos Women's Cultural Folklore Association, with traditional "caravan" and the lantern in hand, wanders around the Chora singing the traditional Mykonian and Delian New Year's carols.

You will also find Christmas bread and palm in Andros, which, however, also uses pasteli a lot as Christmas food. The latter is served on lemon leaves, a custom that has existed since ancient times, as the ancients used the leaves as plates.

Naxos Naxion Kourabiedes

In Naxos, the decoration of the Christbread is special, with a large cross made of dough, nuts and various designs of flowers and animals. Goat and lamb stuffed with greens and rice dominate as dishes suitable for the Christmas and New Year's table.

The 12 days of the holidays also have the custom of the Christmas log, with a large log burning in the fireplace for 12 days and then scattering its ashes on plants and animals for blessing.

Syros
Syros

In Syros, the Catholic element sets its tone since the Catholic inhabitants, after church, return to their homes and eat fish and cauliflower. On New Year's Eve, members of the Lyceum of Greek Girls, dressed in the traditional Syrian costume, walk through the streets of Ermoupoli holding a decorated boat, symbolising people's new life after Christ's birth, singing Syrian and Tinian carols.

In Sifnos, traditional carols are based on an idiosyncrasy of improvised songs sung from noon until the evening of Christmas Eve and New Year. As for the food, the Christmas table includes salted or oven-baked pork, while the Christmas cookies here are flavoured with aniseed. The carols also make a difference in Serifo, where the men of the island gather on the night of Christmas Eve to sing.

Christmas bread with nuts is also made in Paros, where children sing carols on the afternoon of Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve immediately after in the evening and the following morning after the end of the liturgy.

In Theophany, men also attend the service in the men's Monastery of Logovarda (which starts at two in the morning), while the women attend the corresponding ceremony of the Holy Church of Taxiarchis. In Antiparos, they bake cookies with mastic on New Year's.

Santorini Greek GDP
Santorini

In Santorini, fava beans, beans, and tomato meatballs are included on the festive table. The tradition also wants the students of the school to give a sum of money to the teacher – the so-called Kalichera– and sing carols to him.

Kythnos
Kythnos

In Amorgos again, on New Year's Day, they serve "kofto", a dish made of wheat, onion, grated cheese, oil and water for may the harvest go well. In Anafi, every Christmas, the women of the house make the "coufeto", a spoon sweet with blanched almonds and pieces of sweet pumpkin that are boiled in honey, while on New Year's, they add yolk (saffron) to the bread, and this is how zafforisto is made, with its special yellow colour.

In Kythnos again, Christbread is leavened with anise and mastic, while in Kimolo tradition calls for xerotigans or diples with honey and cinnamon.

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