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
Great photos, and I think its great to see how another culture celebrates Christmas time. Hope you having a great time, thanks for sharing :)ReplyDelete
Thanks Jane. Glad you enjoyed the photos. And appreciate the time you spent 'with us'. Chronia Polla!Delete
Even though we moved to Canada in 2008 we still come back to the States for Christmas to be with family (my mom) and now a good friend. I do have a dream of celebrating Christmas in my float cabin home, but it may not happen for a very long time. - MargyReplyDelete
Margy, if we still had parents I am certain we'd make it a point to be with them at Christmas. Such a blessing to be able to be with your mom. . .enjoy the time together - you'll have plenty of years in that beautiful float cabin home of yours! Chronia Polla! JackieDelete
That's so cool! So glad I found you! Will definitely be back. Hope you will visit me at http://nanahood.com/things-i-would-change-about-christmas-if-i-couldReplyDelete
Hi Teresa, So glad you stopped by and left a message -- I found your Google+ page and enjoyed it - I too will be back to your blog! Chronia Polla!Delete
Oh, Jackie, I am SO thrilled that you and the Scout have become such happy Greeks! I read your post with such interest and enthusiasm that you'd think I had no idea about what life is like in Greece! THAT's how much of a talented writer you are!ReplyDelete
Χρονια Πολλα! All the best in 2018 in your beautiful, stone house on the hill!
Thank you! I take that as a very real compliment. Love to you and Chronia Polla! (My goal for 2018 is that you and I finally meet face-to-face for some hugs and laughs and catching up!) Hugs, JackieDelete
From Japan; I will give Christmas Illuminations to Tomodachi in the world! https://ryoma2sakamoto.wordpress.com/2017/12/25/from-japan-i-will-give-christmas-illuminations-to-tomodachi-in-the-world/ReplyDelete
I just visited your blog and what lovely photos of Christmas. Happy holidays to you - please come back often!Delete
Thanks for linking up at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2017/12/wishing-you-merry-christmas.html
Sending Seasons Greetings to your Greek paradise from our piece of paradise in Portugal. This is our 6th Christmas as expats and I have to agree with you, it's definitely different and all kinds of wonderful. Perhaps it's because we don't watch TV (except for Netflix) but we don't miss any of the holiday hype that begins in the States in October and becomes more frenetic until the years end. I (almost) appreciate hearing Christmas music in the stores and love the way our little town is decorated with lights. And I'm with you in appreciating the simplicity of the season which celebrates the ties of family and friends as well. Wishing you and Joel a very happy 2018 filled with more friends, laughter and new destinations to explore!ReplyDelete
And the same good holiday wishes back to you in Portugal. It really is so different, yet so special, that it makes it difficult to think of things you are missing. However our friends who think we've moved to the moon would likely be taken aback when entering a grocery store and hearing Elvis crooning, "I'll have a blue, blue Christmas. . ." Happy New Year and hope its filled with all sorts of new adventures! xxxDelete
Xronia Polla Jackie. When I first moved to Greece 21 years ago I had a really hard time adjusting to Christmas because I had kids and there was none of the merriment that prevailed in the States. Hardly any Christmas Trees either. So we had to build up a new set of traditions. And over the years like you the olive harvest became the centerpiece of the holidays. I am glad that I lived in Greece because now I don't get sucked into all the excess that goes on here. I hope you enjoy all the good and take the tough times with a grain of salt. After all there is something very romantic about candlelight and the lit fireplace in the wintertime.ReplyDelete
Mary you've summed it up perfectly. I've said on many occasions it will be difficult to get used to the US pace and commercialism after having experienced such simple celebration here. You are correct about that candlelight and fire in the fireplace as well - happiness! Hope you had a great time in the big city and are adjusting to life in the US.Delete
What a fascinating read...I knew nothing about Greece's Christmas holiday traditions. Now I get hungry just thinking about it.ReplyDelete
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel
Wonderful! Thank you for sharing! Happy New Year!ReplyDelete
I enjoyed this post so very much. It was fun learning all the things you covered in one interesting account of the holiday there. Most of all...I so love your amazing attitude about everything...ReplyDelete
Another great posting Jackie. I enjoyed the photos and the story of the holiday experiences in your new home. I love that mail delivery is suspended for the harvest.ReplyDelete