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Traditions - athensflat.gr

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Monday the 19th of February 2018 is a national holiday thus a day of celebration.
Clean or Ash Monday, “Kathari Deftera” in Greek, marks out the 40-day period of the Great Lent for the Eastern Greek Orthodox Church, which is called “Sarakosti.”

seafoodClean Monday puts an end to the preceding three week Carnival celebrations. Invites Orthodox Christians to leave the sinful attitudes associated with Carnival behind and prepare themselves for Easter.

The tradition of Clean Monday in Greece involves food for adults and fun for kids!

The tradition menu for this day wants dishes based on seafood such as seashells, shellfish like shrimp and mussels, cuttlefish, octopus and more. Trade mark of the day is the taramosalata, (a dip made out of the salted and cured fish roe from carp or cod, mixed with olive oil, lemon juice and bread crumbs), the lagana, (an unleavened flatbread baked only on that day) and of course, ouzo drinking.

Clean Monday’s favorite game for kids is the Kite flying and this is a part of the tradition.
Friends and families organize picnics to open areas, so as to fill the skies with their kites and enjoy their meal at the nature.
In older times, kites used to be handmade, for that many traditional workshops were involved in making kites for over 70 years. Nowadays the wooden kites have been replaced by plastic ones, but there are still some kite-making handcraft. The secret of a successful kite is in its balances and tail.

aetoi kids
If there weather is good, you can see the traditional kite flying in almost every open air location of the city, such as Philopapou hill

For those of you that like seafood, a must see is the central market of Athens. Specially for that day it is open from Sunday 22:00 non stop until Monday 13:00 and it is unbelievably crowdy.
Athenians are visiting this market for their sea food shopping after their carnival’s last night parties.
If you decide to pay a visit please take care of your personal belongings.

seafood varvakios

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Christmas carols (Kalanta)
Happy religious songs, usually sung at Christmas.

kalanta carols in AthensChristmas carols is a beloved, widespread custom among children all over Greece. Traditionally children are caroling on 3 different days during Christmas holidays. On December the 24th for Christmas, December the 31st for the New Year and January 5th for Epiphany.

Children walk along the city’s streets beating small metallic triangles, entering in stores or knocking on people's doors, asking if they are allowed to sing the carols. Don’t be surprised if you meet really young children losing the lyrics, accompanied by older ones, or really talented children carrying guitars, accordions or harmonicas. In Greek the question is: “Na ta poume?” and people are usually expected to say Yes “Natapite!” and so it begins. Caroling starts early in the morning and finishes in early afternoon.

Having the carols sung at a greek house is considered a blessing, so, if you decide you want to experience this custom and eventually open your door, you will be expected to give the carol singers a small amount of money (around 1 to 2 euros should be enough).
Please keep in mind that this short procedure should take place outside the doorstep and for no reason inside the flat.
Happy Holidays!

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25th March. A National Holiday for the Greek Independence Day

The 25th March is a major double National Holiday, a historical and a religious one. All schools, banks, all kind of shops and business as well as all public services come to a standstill.

Greeks celebrate the War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire. The “Greek Revolution” was a successful war of independence waged by the Greek revolutionaries between 1821 and 1830. At the same time, Greek Orthodox Church celebrates the “Annunciation” by archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she should become the mother of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

1821 Greek revolution

The festivities in Athens start one day prior on the 24th March with the annual students parade. School students and other youth associations, dressed in school uniform and traditional dress, march in front the Tumble of the Unknown Soldier, located at the yard of the Hellenic House of Parliament in Syntagma square.

On the 25th March, the grand military parade starts at 11:00 am making its way from Vasilissis Sofias Avenue, past Hellenic Parliament at Syntagma Square, the Academy of Athens on Panepistimiou Street and ends at Omonia Square. The grand parade includes squadrons from the Hellenic Armed Forces, civil and military marching bands followed by a procession of military vehicles, while air Force planes and choppers are overflying. So, if it happens to be in Athens on that day don’t be surprised!

military parade Athens 25 March

The parades are attended by the president of the Greek democracy and other dignitaries, along with hundreds of locals who gather along the streets. Smaller local parades are taking place practical at any city neighborhood or country village! So if you plan to travel by car on the 25th of March try to avoid crossing villages between 11:00 – 13:00.

Tip: The Greek custom on Annunciation Day is to eat “bakaliaros skordalia”, a delicious crispy fried Cod fish with a spicy garlic sauce made of potato and olive oil, available at all restaurants and tavernas throughout Athens and the rest of Greece.

Greek food tradition for the 25th March

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For all Christians Good Friday is the peak of the Passion Week. The day of absolute mourning and reverence for Christianity. The day that commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at the Calvary, while the church bells ring in mourning from 12 noon.

This year, 2018, Good Friday in on the 6th of April.

In all Greek churches, no mater if it is in big cities, remote villages or whitewashed islands, the Passion of Christ is devotionally revived through different traditions.

epitafios

The ritual starts in the early morning when women decorate with flowers the Epitaph in order to receive the body of Jesus after the mass.

following the Epitaphios in Plaka

The day culminates with the Epitaph procession by candlelight through the streets, where priests, choirs, military bands and the faithful crowd chant religious hymns.

If you get the chance, do not hesitate to follow it your self!

epitafios in Athens city center
It is distinguished experience you will remember for long time! If your vacation home happened to be near Plaka, Athens’ oldest neighborhood, consider your self lucky!
More-often, several Epitaph processions meet at crossroads or little hidden squares, through the narrow picturesque alleys, offering a unique opportunity to feel the vibes and make memorable photos! Go for it!

The customs of the Holy Week are always an interesting cultural experience even for non-believers.

epitafios in front of Greek Parliament

The most formal ceremony is that of the Metropolis in which politicians and influential figures of Athenian society are involved. This particular epitaph is accompanied by a military band.

In most areas, the epitaph procession begins around 9pm, for one exemption. In the Monastery of Kaisariani, the epitaph procession takes place during the day. It comes out of the church around 02:00 pm. The procession takes place on Mount Hymettus, through the flowery nature and it is accompanied by the Christian Youth Brotherhood that chants. It is a unique experience for anyone who prefers to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city center.
Find here more info and instructions of how to get there.

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EpiphanyPeiraikiOn Jan. 6th  during the Theofania (also Epiphany or Fota) celebration takes place across Greece while the Greek Orthodox Church performs

 the “Great Blessing of the Waters”.


The ceremony is performed once on the eve of Epiphany in the church, and then again on the actual day outdoors with priests blessing large bodies of water, sea, rivers, lakes and of the vessels that ply them .
In all Greek coastal cities and villages the priests bless the waters with the Holy Cross, while many brave swimmers jump into the icy waters despite the cold weather to catch the Cross and get the priest’s blessing for the year.
The tradition wants the young man that catches the Cross will have extra good luck and blessing for the year to come. As the cross is victoriously brought back, the priest releases a white dove, as a symbol of the holy spirit.
This religious celebration commemorates the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist, according to the Orthodox Church, and the banishing of the mischievous Kalikantzaroi (goblins) back to the hollow earth for another year round, according to popular belief.

Οne of the main traditions of the Epiphany holiday is the Kalanda (carols) sung by children on Epiphany’s Eve taking the message of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River from house to house over sweets or a small amount of money.

So, do not be surprised if you hear the door bell ringing on the 5th of January morning...

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