As the months are passing without us realizing during this pandemic, we are already in the midst of summertime! All we can think about though today is the Christmas holidays! In Greece, officially, Christmas celebrations last for 14 days. But it is the unofficial little daily traditions that matter in the winter! When people in many places around the world celebrate these holidays by decorating artificial or not trees much earlier than these 14 days, Greeks wouldn’t miss out. However, Christmas decorations used to be very different for Greeks.
The Greek traditions, traditionally!
Until 1833, when the German and Scandinavian custom arrived in Greece, Christmas decorations had nothing to do with trees. It was much more common for Greek households to decorate a small boat with lights. There are several theories on the origin of the illuminated boat tradition. Some say that it began as a gift and a thank you to Saint Nicolas, the patron saint of sailors (he is celebrated on the 6th of December, the most common day of Christmas decorating in Greece). Most commonly, it is believed that it symbolises the love and respect Greeks had for the sea with a large number of Greek men working as sailors and fearless captains. With the men being away at the sea for months at a time, the wives and children that remained behind illuminated boats to symbolise the anticipation of reuniting with loved ones.
Following the tradition to the letter, the illuminated boats should be small wooden boats and placed inside or close to the fireplace. The boat should point towards the centre of the house and never towards the door, in order to symbolise getting back in the home instead of out through the door. The boats were decorated with as much warmth as possible, with calming lights, to give a lovely welcome to the men of the household that would return from their trip.
Buy your Christmas decorations from Santorini
Today, the 25th of June marks the halfway till Christmas. Popularly this day is called Leon (the opposite of Noel) and it is known for mini Christmas celebrations like wearing Christmas sweaters and listening to holiday music. We are celebrating by buying our Christmas decorations! Check some unique options inspired by Greece and Santorini here: