Not as wildly popular as a festive Greek Easter, the winter holidays are marked throughout Greece with lots of cooking and baking in the days leading up to Christmas, New Year's Day and Epiphany.
As elsewhere, and especially in cosmopolitan Athens, stores and shops are also filled with holiday shoppers looking for that perfect gift for friends and loved ones.
Christmas Day celebrations, especially, are observed by devout religious services in the morning, followed by visits with family where the holiday table usually groans under the weight of homemade
holiday treats including Christopsomo, or Christmas bread, and honey soaked melomakarona.
New Year's Day celebrations center around the Vasilopita cake, with the new year written out in almond pieces on top, and a coin hidden within the cake. The suspense mounts as the family waits to see who finds the coin in their slice, which by tradition ensures good luck for the rest of the year.
The holiday season ends on January 6th when more holiday blessings come to any young diver who during the observance of Epiphany retreives a crucifix thrown into a bay or river by a local clergyman during the "Blessing of the Waters"
Elsewhere on the Web, discover more stories and photos of enduring traditions & customs, including Greek Christmas carols and folktales, holiday happenings in Athens and Crete, and additional recipes with instructions for celebrating a sweet virtual Christmas in Greece ...
More information about Christmas in Greece around the Web:
Greek & Cretan Christmas customs - A guide to a Greek Christmas including photos, illustrations and interesting folktales about pesky Kallikantzaroi, Epiphany celebrations, and the blessing of the waters, and modern controversies over the holiday's commercialization, with related links to more.
Christmas in Athens - Check out an insider guide to traveling to Greece in the off-season with tips on travel tours, shopping, sightseeing and day trips, with an archived photo gallery of Athens during the holidays.