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Connecting People, Traditions & Generations

Christmas is only days away and the holiday season is in full effect! Celebrate the season with some of these unique Greek traditions.

It’s typical in Greek culture to prepare a spectacular feast for friends and family, where everyone can get together and eat, drink, and celebrate until the early morning. Traditional desserts include melomakarona and kourambiedes, baked sweets that Greek mothers and grandmothers have prepared and passed down through the generations. Melomakarona are small, egg-shaped desserts baked from a soft dough made with olive oil, flower, sugar, orange, and honey. Koirambiedes are very similar to American shortbreads. They are baked with almonds and brandy until golden and then covered in icing sugar.

While Americans adorn their Christmas trees with lights and ornaments, Greeks traditionally decorate a small wooden ship to honor the maritime culture. The festive boats are a symbol of gratitude to the country’s many seamen, lighting the way for a safe return home.

On New Year’s Eve, Greeks cut the vasilopita, a cake that holds a hidden coin. Whoever finds the coin will receive good luck in the New Year. It’s also traditional to hang a pomegranate above your doorway. All the house lights are turned off at midnight, and one person takes the pomegranate and smashes it into the floor. The lights turn back on, revealing the seeds as a sign of welcoming the New Year. The pomegranate is believed to be lucky and it is also a symbol of fertility.

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