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Χριστούγεννα (christúghena) – Christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Let’s see the related vocabulary for Christmas in Greek, as well as some traditions and myths! 

Usually, Santa Claus, «ο Άγιος Βασίλης» (o ághios vasílis) brings the presents on the New Year’s Eve, «την Πρωτοχρονιά» (tin protochroniá). The most common sweet delicacies are «μελομακάρονα» (melomakárona) and «κουραμπιέδες» (kurabiéthes) which are “rivals”! Μελομακάρονα are cookies with a hint of orange, dipped in cinnamon and honey syrup and sprinkled with walnuts, whereas κουραμπιέδες are small cookies made of flour, butter, powder sugar and almonds, after which a person is completely white with powdered sugar like a snowman, «χιονάνθρωπος» (chionánthropos)! These two different sweets have their “groupies”: people always compete for which one is better! The truth is, both are delicious!  

On Christmas we decorate the Christmas tree, that is «στολίζουμε το Χριστουγεννιάτικο δέντρο» (stolízume to christugheniátiko théndro). However, tradition has it that Greeks decorate also a small boat, since Greece has historically been the land of seafarers! 

Children sing carols, «τα κάλαντα» (ta kálada), on the Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and Epiphany.  

At midnight on Christmas, people in villages light fires to drive out the goblins, «καλικάντζαροι» (kalikántzari)! Καλικάντζαροι live in the Underworld. They annoy people and cause damages to the house. They love sweets. In the evening they steal the food and dance. They usually have red eyes, monkey teeth and donkey legs. They leave when Epiphany comes!  

We wish you Merry Christmas, «Καλά Χριστούγεννα» (kalá christúghena)!