Christmas in Thessaloniki: Kala Christougenna!
The countdown for the holidays has started and also in Thessaloniki it is noticeable. The city is covered in a blanket of exuberant Christmas lights and other decorations. Most of the stores even underwent a complete metamorphosis. Also, the cafes and restaurants are in. Going out for a drink with friends is now done in the middle of countless lights, reindeers, Christmas trees and fake snow.
Cosiness at the Aristotle square
Like always the Aristotle square is the heart of festivities. Its twenty-meter-high Christmas tree is ornamented by thousands of lights. The children run around the carrousel and enthusiastic explore the coloured Christmas houses on the square. Meanwhile, the parents drink their coffee and shoot some pictures of their kids.
But also elsewhere in the city center you can get a taste of the Christmas ambiance. The shopping area at Agia Sofia is now enlightened by blue lights. Here and there you find life-size plastic dromedaries. For a passerby a nice moment to take a selfie. Those who are relaxing on the terraces are enjoying the whole spectacle.
Traditions around Christmas
Besides all the lights and the dressed-up fake dromedaries you also find lightened boats throughout the whole city. In Greece this is a typical Christmas tradition. One of the main reasons for these boats is the honouring of Agios Nikolaos, the patron saint of the sailors. In the past the boats were also decorated to welcome the seafarers back home for the holidays. Only two centuries ago the Christmas tree was introduced in Greece.
Besides the enlightened boats the ‘Kalanta’ are also a tradition around Christmas. On Christmas evening the children pass by the houses to sing these songs and that way earn sweets. Families spend the first and second day of Christmas together, largely –how could it be different- around the table.
Time for even more sweets
That the Greek people have a really sweet tooth, we already knew. 365 days a year the shop windows are full of pies, cakes and cookies. But in December it’s almost impossible to meet the needs of the Thessalonians.
Tsourekia, melomakarona and kourabiedes are typical Christmas delicacies. Around December you will find at least one of these sorts in almost every household.
Make your own kourabiedes
Crazy about Greece and love to spend time in the kitchen? Then we are pleased to tell you a recipe to make the best kourabiedes on your own.
What do you need? 625 grams of flour, 350 grams of butter, 150 grams of sugar, 500 grams of powdered sugar, two egg yolks, 250 grams of white almonds, half a bag of baking powder, peel of two oranges and half a glass of Cointreau. Instructions: Put the butter together with the Cointreau, the egg yolks and the sugar in a mixing bowl and mix well together. Add the orange peel during mixing. Then knead the nuts and thereafter the baking powder and the flour through the mix. Roll balls or half moons of the dough. You bake them for half an hour at 160 degrees. Once cooled, sprinkle them generously with powdered sugar and you’re done!
Kali orexi and kala Christougenna!