Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays. . .
After a bit of pondering, I answered, ‘No, not weird. More like wonderful. . .but definitely different.’
|Christmas Day downtown Agios Nikolaos|
|A church in a nearby village - closed on Christmas but decorated with orchids|
|My home-made table centerpiece - olive boughs, berry bush boughs and ribbon.|
Our first Christmas as ex pats.
And, all that has been different about it, has made it rather wonderful.
|Poinsettias for sale at our village grocery stores|
|Wind was so strong it blew surface water on the sea and reversed wave action on the shore|
Damage done, Boreas moved on making way for Santa Claus, St. Basil (whose day is Jan. 1st), St. Nikolaos and others to take center stage.
|Deck the trees with bags of olives, fa-la-la-la-la. . .|
'Tis the Season of Olive HarvestLiving in a small Greek fishing village in the midst of Greece’s olive producing Kalamata region, does slow life’s pace. It is also a sharp contrast to the Christmas commercialism and expectations we knew in the United States. We have one dress shop, one bookstore, and two hardware stores that have remained open in the weeks before Christmas. A handful of restaurants are still operating. Most business have closed or severely reduced operations because owners are busy with their olive harvest -- the one activity that continues at a hectic pace.
|Olives going into the processor come out sometime later as olive oil|
So important is olive harvest that our local mailman quit delivering the mail last week for several days so that he could harvest his olives. Can you imagine that happening two weeks before Christmas in the United States? There’d be mass revolt and panic. Olive harvest is in full swing right now with the presses running long hours.
Christmas in Greece – Traditions and Celebrations
Christmas in the Greek Orthodox religion begins on Christmas Eve and continues until Epiphany, Jan. 6th. The day the Magi arrived in Bethlehem.Gifts are given on that day to symbolize the gifts of the Wise Men.
|Christmas in Kalamata - the city was alive with shoppers and activity|
As I made decorations for the house, (one is pictured to the left) I chuckled at the thought of the four large boxes of decorations sitting in that storage unit back in the Pacific Northwest.
We didn’t have a tree as only large artificial ones were for sale in the large supermarket. (And legneds say that Greeks have a tradition of decorating small wooden boats instead of - or in addition to a tree - to honor Saint Nicholas/Agios Nikolaos the Patron Saint of Sailors as well as the fishermen and sailors themselves.) Next year I'll look for a boat to decorate.
We didn't have presents to unwrap. (The Scout got a new chair and I got a new kitchen faucet.)
I didn't cook a big dinner. Nor did I bake anything.
It really was a very different – but remarkably refreshing way to spend the day.
On January 6th, one of our favorite ceremonies, the Blessing of the Water, takes place in our villages. It commemorates the baptism of Jesus by Saint John in the Jordan River –also referred to as Theophany (God shining forth or Devine Manifestation) or Phota (Lights). which was when the Trinity was revealed.
Christmas GoodiesThe 12 days between Christmas and January 6th are considered a time of feasting (as many of the devout have fasted during Advent). Anything celebrated with feasting is right up our alley! Several of you have asked in particular about the cookies and sweets, so here you go:
|Christmas treats from our neighbors|
|Crhistmas cookies for sale at our favorite Kalamata bakery|
|Christmas Day comes to a close in the village but the celebrations are just starting|
We thank you for the time you spent with us knowing that for many of you, this continues to be a hectic and busy time of year. We hope your travels are healthy and happy until you are back with us again next week!
Linking this week with:
Best of Weekend
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Travel Photo Thursday –
Weekend Travel Inspiration