Christmas (Christougena) is an important time in Greece and whether you are going to be visiting the country during the holidays or you are thinking of holding your very own Greek style celebration, there are number of traditions that continue to play a vital part in the festivities.
There are certain foods which will be typically seen around the dinner table at Christmas time and you will find that Greek people have a large number of customs related to this particular holiday.
Fast Before Christmas
From November 15 to December 24 it is well known for a fast to take place and this means that certain food items (all meat, eggs and dairy products) are restricted throughout the forty day period.
St. Basilís Day Ė January 1
St. Basilís Day (named after one of the Greek Orthodox Church founders) is the time when families open gifts delivered by Agios Vasilis - an alternative to Santa Claus.
This day will see a range of foods being served but the most prominent of these is Vasilopita, a type of cake that is specifically made for the New Year. During the process of baking it has been known for a coin to be added and the finder will have luck and fortune throughout the year.
Kourabiedes and Melomakarona - Greek Cookies
Both these types of cookies are very tasty and are regularly seen in practically every household throughout the Christmas and New Year period.
Kourabiedes: These are likened to shortbread and are made with the simplest of ingredients, such as sugar, butter and crushed almonds.
Melomakarona: If you want to try making a batch of these waltnut and honey cookies then you will find they are very easy to make.
Sesame Seed Baklava
Baklava is an extremely popular dessert that is made using phyllo pastry and can be created with a range of different ingredients. An old custom which originates from certain parts of Greece involves serving sesame baklava on Christmas Eve.
This dessert is ideal at Christmas and during the fasting period as there is no need to worry about the ingredients used within the recipe.