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How Does Greece Celebrate Christmas?

Greece Celebrate Christmas

Greece is one of the best places to spend Christmas with loved ones if you are looking to experience a different kind of holiday. The island of Crete is particularly festive, and you can make the most of your visit by using a car rental in Crete. Having your own car lets you explore off-the-beaten paths and learn more about the island’s history and traditions.

Do you want to spend Christmas the Greek way? Here are some basics to know.

Meet St. Basil

Agios Vasilios or Saint Basil is the Greek Santa Claus. Also known as Basil the Great or Basil of Caesarea, he was among the Three Hierarchs who contributed to shaping Christian theology in the fourth century. He was known to care for the weak, even building a hospice and hospital and using his family’s inheritance to help the poor. His feast day is January 1st, so if you can, try to extend your trip to the New Year to experience the gift-giving festivities.

Gift-giving happens on New Year.

Christmas Day in Greece is celebrated with sweet treats and big family dinners, but Greeks don’t exchange gifts. Instead, they customarily hand out presents on the New Year, the feast day of St. Basil. With a car rental in Crete, try to visit one of the big cities and enjoy the local Christmas cake, Vasilopita, which has a coin concealed within. Finding the coin in your slice is believed as a sign of good luck for the year.

Marvel at the decorated boats

Saint Nicholas is also an important figure in modern-day Greek Christmas celebrations. But as he is the patron saint of sailors, locals honour him throughout the holidays by decorating boats. Marinas and ports boast life-sized vessels bedazzled in lights to honour the tradition of sailors’ children and wives decorating the boats themselves. You’ll also find model boats strewn with fairy lights in many houses.

Greek carols

Kalanda is a long-standing Greek tradition derived from the musical traditions of the Romans and Byzantines. Young children mostly sing these Greek carols, and people reward them with sweets and pocket change.


Christmas is a big holiday in Greece that is celebrated with food. With your car rental in Crete, you can get around and try different fares all over the island. Pork is the meat served to break the advent fast, but you can also expect delicacies like mulled wine, stuffed turkey, and raki with honey.

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