Christmas is one of the most important days to Christians all over the world. People are in the mood to celebrate, and for Greeks, this means bringing out all their favorite foods! In many families, Christmas recipes are often passed down from one generation to another!
There is a 40 day fasting period prior to Christmas for observant Christians. People fast from dairy products and meat but they are allowed to eat fish and seafood, since this is a happy fasting period due to the birth of Christ, contrary to the almost 50 day fasting period before Pascha (Easter) that is more strict.
The Christmas Church service takes place early in the morning between 6-8:30am. There are churches that offer evening services or vigils that finish around 1 o’clock in the morning and this is mainly conducted for those who work on Christmas Day and for those who want to go out partying all night!
Christmas dinner? NO thank you it’s Christmas lunch for Greeks!
There is no Christmas dinner in Greece. It’s rather a luncheon that takes place between 14:00 and 15:00 with the (large) family alone. Friends or guests in Christmas table are an exception to the rule. Usually friends are reserved for coffee after the Christmas luncheon and for dinner the day after Christmas.
In this post hotelAthensGreece.com will present some of the most common foods found on the Christmas and New Year’s table in Greece.
The famous Melomakarona and Kourabiedes
In any Greek home, over the Christmas season, kourabiedes and melomakarona, can be found, piled high on plates, ready to be offered to any visitor that might drop by. As far as sweet Christmas treats go, Greeks usually fall into one of two camps: those who love melomakarona and those who go nuts for kourabiedes!
Melomakarona are olive oil based honey and spices cookies. They are napped with almonds and / or nuts. Delicius and full of cinnamon, cloves and orange aromas they are suited for vegans!
Kourabiedes are considered to be served during happy celebrations: marriage, baptism or celebrations as Christmas and New Year. Made with pure butter (goat or ewe butter is the best) and almonds they melt in your mouth with every bite! Other nuts such as hazelnuts and walnuts can also be used.
Kourabiedes can be made in different shapes: round, croissant, stars or small balls and are always dusted with, rolled in or buried under confectioner’s sugar!
It is a popular fixture in Orthodox homes in Greece during Christmas. Christopsomo literally means “Christ’s Bread,” is lovingly prepared by people in the household, but bakeries also sell it for those who don’t want to make their own.
Not only that, but there are those who consider this bread to be sacred. It is believed that this bread has to be made well for a family to enjoy peace and prosperity in the next year.
Christopsomo a special bread for Jesus.
Egg & lemon Chicken-Rice Soup (Avgolemono Soup)
Either as the first meal after Christmas church services, or the first course at the main meal of the day, this chicken and rice soup made with the famous mixture of eggs and lemon juice (avgolemono) is a familiar sight in Greek homes.
Chicken-Rice Soup Avgolemono Soup.
In Greece, slaughtering hogs usually takes place during winter. This means that it is often a primary source of meat for the Christmas and New Year’s feast in Greece! Roasting pork is very popular in Greece. This tradition dates back from antiquity when the farmers would sacrifice a pig to Zeus and to Demeter the goddess of harvest, to protect their crops and bring fertility to the land.
Pork with Celery egg & lemon sauce (Avgolemono)
This is by far one of the best stews served in the winter in Greece. Also served in the Christmas / New Year Holiday season. It’s a classic dish that is eaten all over Greece. Celery, pork, and avgolemono combine to create a dish with strong flavours and delicate textures.
Pork with celery is one of the best stews served in Greece.
Christmas Whole Roast Suckling Pig
Roasting a suckling pig is an event that suits very well to the celebrating mood of Christmas/New Year Holiday season.
The roasted whole piglet is a favorite Greek food for Christmas & New Year’s celebration.
Unlike many of the foods that are served on the Greek Christmas table, turkey is somewhat new on the scene. The reason for this is that turkeys aren’t all that common in Greece, and those that are in Greece are also relatively new. Although it arrived in the 1800s, it has become one of the popular foods in Christmas tables. Chicken is also a popular poultry choice for both Christmas and New Year tables.
Turkey filled with minced pork meat, chestnuts and raisins.