Historically, Christmas was never a major celebration in Greece. Easter is our biggest feast, and besides parading form house to house on Christmas and New Year’s Eve to sing kalanda – the Greek version of carols — collecting money or sweets, there was little else traditionally observed. So when we came out of the hardships of the Second World War and the Civil war that followed, we happily adopted the German and northern European Christmas customs of decorating the tree, stuffing and baking the turkey, and of course exchanging gifts. Going through some of our childhood pictures the other day, Costas pointed out a particularly common shot, where he was made to stand on a chair, next to this pathetic little Christmas tree made from colored chicken feathers, decorated with oversized ornaments and grotesque pieces of cotton-wool snow.
I, like most Greeks of my generation, and even younger, have similar pictures. Now of course there is a whole industry around the holiday, from growing or importing the Christmas trees, to the more and more elaborate lights and decorations, and many people spend a fortune keeping pace with international trends. (more…)