Column #CM107 It’s that time of the year – Christmas in Greece!

Friday, December 24, 2021
Column CM107
It’s that time of the year – Christmas in Greece!

The PDC World Championship is always played during the Christmas season. People from all over the world travel to London and visit Alexandra Palace.  Some of them will stand on stage, many will go into the city and enjoy the Christmas atmosphere – but one can’t assume they are used to it or that what they experience in London is for them not just exotic…

…because Christmas is not celebrated alike everywhere in Great Britain let alone in Christian comminities around the world – traditions and customs differ a lot.

As we published earlier this week an interview with Greek darts player John Michael, our voyage through the Christmas season begins in Greece. Other stops will be in the Philippines and Wales.

Within Europe the differences between Christmas festivals are not as sognificant as they once were. In Greece, now-a-days we often find a very colourful Christmas tree in the sitting room and often the presents will be handed out on December 24 or 25.

Traditionally, the Christmas season in Greece starts forty days before Chrismas day with fasting.  From November 15 until Christmas no milk, eggs or meat are consumed. The proper Christmas season lasts twelve days and starts on December 24 when children go door-to-door like carolers. The songs they sing are supposed to bring luck and blessings and the children are rewarded with sweets and money.

In the evening, a fire will be lighted in the fireplace with a special piece of olive or pine wood saved for the occasion so that the Christ Child stays warm. This also keeps away the bad goblins which are up to mischief at this time of the year. The fire has to burn the complete twelve days of Christmas.

Beside the Christmas tree it is tradion to decorate a wooden boat with strings of light to remember all the seamen who are at sea over Chrismas. On December 25, Christmas is formally celebrated by the orthodox with a noisy and boisterous family party.

Traditionally, presents are handed out on the first of January and it is neither Father Christmas nor the Christ Child who brings the presents but Saint Vassilios – who on this day celebrates his saint’s day. He hides the presents under the beds of the children.

Vassilios is the patron saint of the children. Similar to Saint Nicholas he was a charitable bishop who cared for the poor and needy. Devoted to him is a special cake one eats on the first of January and in which a coin is hidden. Saint Vassilios is the patron saint of seafaring as well – another reason that the the ship is an important Christmas symbol in Greece.

The climax and end of the Christmas season is the sixth of January – the day on which Jesus from Nathareth was christened. On this day, houses and flats are blessed by the priests – with a spray of basil which was dipped into holy water.

Of course, as everywhere, in Greece one can find a traditional Christmas dinner which ends the fasting on December 25.  After typical Greek starters like Moussaka or Tsatsiki, a stuffed turkey is served. It is filled with mincemeat, sweet chestnuts, rice and noodles and several other ingredients and spices. So, you don’t even need any sides. The dinner is concluded with Melomakronas – a special pastry with a lot of honey.

As John Michael lost his match against Martijn Kleermaker, he will be at home in time for Christmas dinner.  I wish him a Merry Christmas!

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Charis Mutschler
The founder of Global Darts, darts journalist Charis Mutschler hails from Marbach, near Stuttgart, Germany. A regular at most major PDC tournaments, a lover of literature, dance and music and cats, Charis' popular writings about darts and its players often transcend the usual. She brings something unique to the chroniclers of the sport we all love.