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How to Say ‘Merry Christmas’ in Greek

How to Say Merry Christmas in Greek

Do you know any ways to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in Greek? GreekPod101 brings you easy-to-learn translations and the correct pronunciation of Greek Christmas phrases!

Christmas is the annual commemorative festival of Christ’s birth in the Western Christian Church. It takes place on December 25th and is usually celebrated with much food and fanfare! However, not all cultures celebrate Christmas. In some countries, Christmas is not even a public holiday! However, many countries have adapted Christmas and its religious meaning to tally with their own beliefs, or simply in acknowledgment of the festival’s importance to other cultures. If you want to impress native Greek speakers with culturally-appropriate Christmas phrases and vocabulary, GreekPod101 will teach you the most important ways to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in Greek!

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Table of Contents

  1. How to Celebrate Christmas in Greece
  2. Holiday Greetings and Wishes
  3. Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary
  4. Twelve Days of Christmas
  5. Top 10 Christmas Characters
  6. How GreekPod101 Can Help You

1. How to Celebrate Christmas in Greece

Christmas Words in Greek

Christmas is one of the most cherished holidays in Greece. It is celebrated on December 25 in honor of the birth of Jesus Christ, who is called [Ιησούς Χριστός] in Greek. Each region has its own unique customs during Christmas time in Greece.

Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-

What is the main difference between Christmas in Greece and Christmas in the rest of the western world?

If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep reading.

The Christmas atmosphere starts early in Greece, around the beginning of December, when shops and streets start hanging Christmas decorations.

Christmas trees, or [χριστουγεννιάτικα δέντρα], become popular items of purchase around this time. Many people—often islanders—decorate the “Christmas ship” or in Greek [χριστουγεννιάτικο καράβι] as part of the Greek Christmas tradition rather than decorating a tree, which is an adopted custom from abroad. This tradition is related to Greece’s strong association with the sea. The holiday decorations would not be complete without the manger or [φάτνη], representing the stable where Christ was born.

On Christmas Eve or in Greek [παραμονή Χριστουγέννων], children pour out into the streets starting early in the morning to sing Christmas carols, or [κάλαντα Χριστουγέννων]. Grown-ups prepare for the Christmas dinner party, called [ρεβεγιόν Χριστουγέννων] in Greek, that follows later in the evening. The housewives knead the Christmas bread and prepare the table. Pork, or [χοιρινό], is the most popular food eaten at these parties, along with sugar-coated biscuits and honey biscuits. In recent years, however, many eat turkey or [γαλοπούλα] instead. During dinner, people usually listen to well-known Christmas melodies, tying the whole experience together to create the comforting feeling of family warmth and holiday bonding.

A purely Christian custom is the “Christmas bread,” or [χριστόψωμο], which is cut on Christmas day. The Christmas bread is made from ingredients such as finely sifted flour, rosewater, honey, sesame, cinnamon, and cloves. A cross made from strips of dough is placed on top of the bread, while an unshelled walnut is placed in the center as a symbol of fertility. Other popular Christmas customs include the “feeding of the tap”, which is called [τάισμα της βρύσης] and is popular primarily in mainland Greece, and the continuous lighting of fire for protection against goblins.

According to popular belief, the goblins, or [καλικάντζαροι], are demons that live in the depths of the earth. On Christmas Eve, they come up to the surface of the earth to tease people, and stay until Epiphany Day.

Now it’s time to answer our quiz question-

What is the main difference between Christmas in Greece and Christmas in the rest of the western world?

In Greece, instead of coming on Christmas Day, Santa Claus comes on New Year’s, also known as St. Basil’s Day in Greece!

Godparents and relatives still give gifts to children on Christmas, so they can’t complain!

2. Holiday Greetings and Wishes for the Holiday Season

Holiday Greetings and Wishes

1- Merry Christmas!

Καλά Χριστούγεννα!
Kalá Hristúyena

Do you know how to say ‘Merry Christmas’ in Greek? Learn here how to pronounce it perfectly! ‘Merry’ means to be joyful, to celebrate and generally be in good spirits. So, with this phrase you are wishing someone a joyful, celebratory remembrance of Christ’s birth!

2- Have a happy New Year!

Καλή χρονιά!
Kalí hroniá!

In countries where Christmas is not officially celebrated, but a Gregorian calendar is observed, this would be a friendly festive-season wish over New Year.

3- Have a great winter vacation!

Καλές χειμερινές διακοπές!
Kalés himerinés diakopés!

This is a good phrase to keep handy if someone doesn’t observe any religious festival over the Christmas holidays! However, this will only be applicable in the Northern hemisphere, where it is winter over Christmas.

4- See you next year!

Θα σε δω ξανά του χρόνου!
Tha se do xaná tu hrónu!

Going away on holiday over Christmas season, or saying goodbye to someone about to leave on vacation? This would be a good way to say goodbye to your friends and family.

5- Warm wishes!

Θερμές ευχές!
Thermés efhés!

An informal, friendly phrase to write in Greek Christmas cards, especially for secular friends who prefer to observe Christmas celebrations without the religious symbolism. It conveys the warmth of friendship and friendly wishes associated with this time of year.

6- Happy holidays!

Καλές γιορτές!
Kalés yortés!

If you forget how to say ‘Merry Christmas!’ in Greek, this is a safe, generic phrase to use instead.

7- Enjoy the holidays!

Να περάσεις καλά!
Na perásis kalá!

After saying ‘Merry Christmas’ in Greek, this would be a good phrase with which to wish Christmas holiday-goers well! It is also good to use for secular friends who don’t celebrate Christmas but take a holiday at this time of the year.

8- Best wishes for the New Year!

Τις καλύτερες ευχές για το νέο έτος!
Tis kalíteres efhés ya to néo étos!

This is another way of wishing someone well in the New Year if they observe a Gregorian calendar. New Year’s day would then fall on January 1st.

3. Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary

Christmas is associated with many traditions and religious symbols in multiple countries across the world. It originated centuries ago in the West with the birth of Christianity, and the celebrations are often embedded with rich cultural significance. So, by now you know how to say Merry Christmas in Greek! Next, learn pertinent vocabulary and phrases pertaining to Christmas, as well as how to pronounce them correctly. At GreekPod101, we make sure you sound like a native speaker!

1- Christmas

Χριστούγεννα
Hristúyena

This is the Greek word for ‘Christmas’. Most happy Christmas wishes in Greek will include this word!

2- Snow

χιόνι
hióni

In most Northern-hemisphere countries, Christmas is synonymous with snow, and for Christmas, the snowman is often dressed as Santa Claus.

3- Snowflake

χιονονιφάδα
hiononifáda

Snowflakes collectively make up snow. A single snowflake is small, white, light like a feather and icy cold! When put under a microscope, the snowflake reveals itself to have the most beautiful, symmetrical patterns. These patterns have become popular Christmas decorations, especially in Western countries.

4- Snowman

χιονάνθρωπος
hionánthropos

As you guessed - a snowman is only possible to build if it is snowing! What a fun way to spend Christmas day outside.

5- Turkey

γαλοπούλα
galopúla

Roast turkey is the traditional main dish on thousands of lunch tables on Christmas day, mainly in Western countries. What is your favorite Christmas dish?

6- Wreath

στεφάνι
stefáni

Another traditional Western decoration for Christmas, the wreath is an arrangement of flowers, leaves, or stems fastened in a ring. Many families like to hang a Christmas wreath outside on their houses’ front doors.

7- Reindeer

τάρανδος
tárandos

Reindeer are the animals commonly fabled to pull Santa Claus’ sled across the sky! Western Christmas folklore tells of Father Christmas or Santa Claus doing the rounds with his sled, carrying Christmas presents for children, and dropping them into houses through the chimney. But who is Santa Claus?

8- Santa Claus

Άγιος Βασίλης Άγιος Βασίληςmasc
Áyios Vasílis

Santa Claus is a legendary and jolly figure originating in the Western Christian culture. He is known by many names, but is traditionally depicted as a rotund man wearing a red costume with a pointy hat, and sporting a long, snow-white beard!

9- Elf

ξωτικό
xotikó

An elf is a supernatural creature of folklore with pointy ears, a dainty, humanoid body and a capricious nature. Elves are said to help Santa Claus distribute presents to children over Christmas!

10- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Ρούντολφ το ελαφάκι
Rúdolf to elafáki

‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ is a Christmas song based on an American children’s story book with the same name. Rudolph is one of Santa’s reindeer. The song became more famous than the book, and can still be heard playing in many shopping malls over Christmas time across the globe!

11- North Pole

βόρειος πόλος
vórios pólos

The cold North Pole is where Santa Claus is reputed to live with his reindeer!

12- Sled

έλκηθρο
élkithro

A sled is a non-motorised land vehicle used to travel over snow in countries where it snows a lot, and is usually pulled by animals such as horses, dogs or reindeer. This one obviously refers to Santa’s sled! Another word for sled is sleigh or sledge.

13- Present

δώρο
dóro

Gift or present giving is synonymous with Christmas Eve and the greatest source of joy for children over this festive time! This tradition signifies that Christ’s birth was a gift to mankind, but not all people who hand out presents over Christmas observe the religious meaning.

14- Bell

καμπάνα
kambána

On Christmas Day, or Christmas Eve, many religious celebrants enjoy going to church for a special sermon and Christmas rituals. The start of the sermon is often announced with bells or a bell, if the church has one. For this reason, the sound of ringing bells is often associated with Christmas Day.

15- Chimney

καμινάδα
kamináda

The chimney is the entrance Santa Claus uses to deliver children’s presents on Christmas Day, according to folklore! Wonder how the chubby man and his elves stay clean…?!

16- Fireplace

τζάκι
jáki

In most countries where it snows, Christmas is synonymous with a fire or burning embers in houses’ fireplaces. Families huddle around its warmth while opening Christmas presents. Also, this is where Santa Claus is reputed to pop out after his journey down the chimney!

17- Christmas Day

Ημέρα των Χριστουγέννων
Iméra ton Hristuyénon

This is the official day of commemorative celebration of Christ’s birth, and falls each year on December 25.

18- Decoration

διακόσμηση
diakósmisi

Decorations are the colourful trinkets and posters that make their appearance in shops and homes during the Christmas holiday season in many countries! They give the places a celebratory atmosphere in anticipation of the big Christmas celebration. Typical Christmas decorations include colorful photographs and posters, strings of lights, figurines of Santa Claus and the nativity scene, poinsettia flowers, snowflakes and many more.

19- Stocking

χριστουγεννιάτικη κάλτσα
hristuyeniátiki káltsa

According to legend, Santa Claus places children’s presents in a red stocking hanging over the fireplace. This has also become a popular decoration, signifying Christmas.

20- Holly

αρκουδοπούρναρο
arkudopúrnaro

Holly is a shrub native to the UK, and parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. It is characterised by glossy, spiny-toothed leaves, small, whitish flowers, and red berries. Ironically, its significance for Christmas relates to Christ’s crucifixion and suffering rather than his birth. However, the leaves’ distinctive shape and image have become popular Christmas decorations.

21- Gingerbread house

σπιτάκι από μπισκότα πιπερόριζας
spitáki apó biskóta piperórizas

According to legend, the gingerbread house synonymous with Christmas is related to Christ’s birth place, Bethlehem. Bethlehem literally means ‘House of Bread’. Over centuries, it has become a popular treat over Christmas time in many non-religious households as well.

22- Candy cane

ζαχαρωτό μπαστούνι neut
zaharotó bastúni

According to folklore, Christmas candy canes made their appearance first in Germany in the 16th century. A choir master gave children the candy canes to suck on in church in order to keep them quiet during the Christmas sermon! Apparently, the candy is shaped like a cane in remembrance of the shepherds who were the first to visit the baby Jesus. Today, like gingerbread houses, they are still a popular sweet over the festive season!

23- Mistletoe

γκι
gi

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows on certain trees. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that the mistletoe has magical powers, and could protect a household from evil if hung above a door during December. The belief didn’t last but the habit did, and the mistletoe is another popular Christmas decoration!

4. Twelve Days of Christmas

Twelve Days of Christmas

Wow, you’re doing extremely well! You know how to wish someone a Merry Christmas in Greek, and you learned pertinent vocabulary too! The Twelve Days of Christmas is not very well known in modern times, so, you’re on your way to becoming an expert in Christmas traditions and rituals. Well done!

The Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as Twelvetide, is a traditional festive period of 12 days dedicated to celebrate the nativity of Christ. Christmas Day is, for many who observe Twelvetide, the first day of this period.

‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ is also a popular Christmas song about a series of gifts given on each day of Twelvetide. According to experts, these gifts were created as a coded reference to important symbols in the Christian church. Here is a list of those gifts mentioned in the song! Do you recognise them?

5. Top 10 Christmas Characters in American Culture

Top 10 Christmas Characters

This is fantastic, you know how to explain almost everything about Christmas in Greek! However, do you know the most popular Christmas characters in American culture? Your knowledge will not be complete without this list.

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We have over a decade of experience and research behind us, and it shows! With thousands of audio and video lessons, detailed PDF lessons and notes, as well as friendly, knowledgeable hosts, GreekPod101 is simply unbeatable when it comes to learning correct Greek. Plenty of tools and resources are available when you study with us. New lessons are added every week so material remains fresh and relevant. You also have the option to upgrade and enjoy even more personalised guidance and services. This is a sure way to fast-track your learning!

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