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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Greece Series at GreekPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Greek holidays and observances. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 2- Christmas. In Greek, it's called [Χριστούγεννα].
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.
In this lesson, we will learn some of the most well-known traditions observed during Christmas time.
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 listening.
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!
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Is Christmas celebrated in your country? And if so, how?
Leave us your comments on GreekPod101.com, and we'll see you in the next lesson.


Please to leave a comment.
😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

GreekPod101.com Verified
Monday at 06:30 PM
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Is Christmas celebrated in your country? And if so, how?

GreekPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 01:56 AM
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Hi Oliver,

Actually, the root is not καλός. It's from the Latin callig(a) through the verb καλιγώνω (= πεταλώνω, to put horseshoes) and the shoe καλλίγα > καλίκι ( the diminutive of καλλίγα) + άντζα + άρος (an augmentative).

γαλοπούλα comes from the Italian gallo (d' India) meaning "rooster of India".

There are some courses that study prefixes and suffixes in the lower intermediate series, however, we don't focus on the history behind each one (they are so many too!). That would be more suitable in a program for people interested in Greek from an academic/linguistics perspective rather than simple language learning. I think you might like the whole lower intermediate series as it's a series that focuses on word families, word production, derivatives, augmentatives, dimutives and more.


If you need to research each words etymology, you can use this dictionary here. It's the most official one in Greece:


Best regards,


Team GreekPod101.com

Monday at 10:02 PM
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Does the prefix of the word καλικάντζαροι come from καλό, which means good? If so, why did that happen?

Does the word γαλοπούλα "turkey" comes from γαλα "milk" and πουλί "bird"? If so, why is that?

Could you made some courses introducing the prefixes and suffixes of Greek and their history story? I am really confused of that.

Thanks for your response!


GreekPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 11:25 PM
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Hi Kos,

Here are some photos of the Xmas ship in homes and as part of the public street decorations during the holidays:


Καλή χρονιά!


Team GreekPod101.com

Monday at 05:13 PM
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I have never of a Christmas ship. I'll ask my Aunt about this.

GreekPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 10:10 AM
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Hi Hiro,

Sounds great! I'm really glad that you like this custom and you are planning to do it next year :)

As for the Premium Plus, whenever you decide to upgrade, just make sure you do it during a campaign season so you can get a discounted price😉! So keep an eye for those campaigns!

All the best,


Team GreekPod101.com

Wednesday at 02:18 AM
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Thanks for your reply.

The point taken. Θα το κάνω το επόμενο έτος καθώς έχω έναν μικρό κήπο στο σπίτι μου.

As to your invitation(dont remember in which lesson) to Premium plus. I'l remain in Premium and I´ll do it next year.


GreekPod101.com Verified
Friday at 09:10 AM
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Hi Hiro,

This Greek custom is also mentioned in this video series.


This custom started in the Peloponnese apparently. I've understood that pomegranates were known since antiquity in Greece but probably came from the region of Mesopotamia.

I don't think we do that in all Greece. Mostly in provinces. For example, in Athens and other large cities it is uncommon since people live in apartment buildings and not in houses. So doing that would create a mess inside a building!

In Greece, we eat vasilopita on New Years! Check out the video for more 😉



Team GreekPod101.com

Thursday at 03:10 AM
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As to the sentence:

Tην Πρωτοχρονιά «σπάσαμε» το ρόδι στην αυλή.

Do you know where this habit came from? I suppose Greeks didn't know το ρόδι until they contacted with Persians.

Turkish influence?

Το δώρο του Ξέρξου;

Do you do that in all Greece?

In Spain, they eat grape, in Italy , they eat lentils and in Japan, they eat rice cake...

Very interesting custom.


Team Greekpod101.com
Thursday at 05:56 PM
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Hi Elisabeth,

Thank you for leaving the comment!

Hope to see you often here ! :)



Team Greekpod101.com

Thursday at 05:31 PM
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In Norway, the main celebration day is the 24th, Christmas Eve ?