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Fortællinger fra Kreta | 12

Tales from Crete | 12

Perhaps there is still a little more Greek in me than I am aware of, because I have the same view of Christmas in relation to the other major church holiday, Easter, as all Greeks have, that Easter is a much bigger holiday. I know I don't share that with so many here in Denmark, because we typically attach the greatest importance to Christmas, at least if you look at the number of people who come to church on the two occasions. We celebrate the birth of Jesus while the Orthodox Greek Church celebrates the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday, and then you can decide for yourself what you think is the most important event, if you think it is something to celebrate at all.

The Greeks also do not celebrate Christmas in the same way as we do. Artificial Christmas trees have probably found their way into many homes, but it is now mostly for coziness. You also don't celebrate Christmas Eve with dancing around the Christmas tree, singing and presents like we do. In Greece, Christmas Eve is quite a normal weekday and the shops are happy to be open until around 22:00.  In principle, the Orthodox Church dictates fasting for 40 days leading up to Christmas, so Christmas dinner is eagerly awaited. It will be taken on 25 December. Christmas morning starts early with mass in the church. Christmas dinner is then eaten, which typically consists of turkey stuffed with rice, chestnuts or pine nuts or grilled lamb. There is a tradition for the children to go from door to door and sing to the neighbors in exchange for some sweets, dates, almonds, walnuts or other sweets.

In many Greek homes it is a tradition to have a wooden bowl filled with water with a piece of string stretched out along the edge. From here hangs a small sprig of basil tied to a wooden cross. Once a day, a family member dips the cross in water and then sprinkles the water into all the rooms of the house. The purpose is to keep some kind of prankster away from the house. There is no tradition of giving gifts at Christmas.

But the Greeks really like the Christmas lights. In fact, so well that it hangs in many places all year round. On the other hand, there is no reason to take it down, when it has to be lit again next year anyway. I have actually learned a bit from that myself and must admit that it is somewhat easier to turn on the switch, rather than being out in the cold and snow and hanging string lights on trees and on the house. But even though my wife probably thinks I'm going a little too far with the Christmas lighting at home, there's still some way to go before I can compete with a traditional Greek Christmas lighting, like the one in the picture - but I'm trying.

It's a little too early to say Merry Christmas yet, but have a great Advent season everyone.

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