Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas in Athens

It was interesting to spend Christmas in a non-North American culture. Here are a few pics that my sister and I took here in Athens.

Christmas Eve is very vibrant here. The small shops are closed by 6pm but the larger ones remain open, but the real vibe is on the street. My sis was out and captured these next ones. Here we have a cute kid enraptured by a street performer (in this case a guy dressed in a white Egyptian costume):
Same kid, more cuteness:
This ol' gent dressed up in his Santa suit - an annual tradition probably - and took to the streets amid all the street vendors, shoppers and those just out enjoying the energy of the city. I believe the instrument he is playing is a Bouzouki.
Gypsy woman dancing to the music...
... and it's easy to get into the spirit with flashing lights on your Santa hat. I got one of these as a gift. I am told I looked adorable. heh.
New Year's Eve is actually the big deal in Greece.... but here is some information on Greek Christmas traditions:

This is Monastiraki Square, right by where we live, with the Acropolis all lit up in the background: Now, to Christmas morning. This is the view that awaited us as we very slowly began our day. This is my sis on kittie watch. You might need to click on the picture to enlarge it, but there IS a kittie in this pic - see if you can find him. We were quite amazed to see him leaping between buildings over the narrow alleys in the area.... It was my turn to make coffee and the little device here chose Christmas morning to "explode", so to speak. Nothing serious, but it created quite the mess that was quite lovely to take pictures of afterwards, thanks to the mirror backsplash in the kitchen. I figure it somehow got it's steam valve plugged, so I poked around later and it hasn't happened again. But what excitement!The rest of breakfast was Greek yogurt with fresh pears and honey. Afterwards, we had a very relaxed day, with our windows flung wide, enjoying all the different church bells that rang throughout the day (Monastiraki means "little monastery" and it seems they all rang their bells on Christmas day). Christmas dinner for us was pretty simple: I made spaghetti with feta and tapane (crushed olives), and Retsina. Served with a smile, still in my pjs:On Boxing Day we went for a stroll in the 'hood. This is Monastiraki Square by daylight. Unfortunately the Acropolis is cut off from this picture, but I thought it was a great crowd pic that captured the moment. More balloons and a little romance....The biggest surprise was seeing "Free Hugs" being offered in Greek in the square - or "Δωρεάν Αγκαλιές". Not sure how new of a phenomenom it is here, but many people seemed quite confused by the concept, though lots participated too.We went out on the 26th for dinner and while we tried to order what seemed to be a seasonal tradition here (?!), they were sold out, so had mousaka and lamb instead. I confess to not being too big on Christmas in the past, but I'm coming around. And this trip has given me a new appreciation for learning about different customs around the world. I wonder where I'll spend my Christmas next year...


Anonymous said...

Didn't I tell you Christmas in Greece would be different? Glad you experienced it. Sounds like you're meant to celebrate Christmas somewhere in Europe again next year.


Paul said...

Thanks for this look at a Greek Christmas, Roberta. I spent a few days in Vienna on the same trip as Athens, and its was quite an experience, with the beautiful outdoor Christmas markets. They do it differently in Europe, and t's fun to see.

Roberta said...

Hi Paul,
Glad you enjoyed this, thanks for sharing your stories too.