Beautiful Christmas! Athens, the city where local and western tradition meets, awaits the visitor all dressed up in its most festive costume: Christmas decoration and lights in every corner, shop windows with bells and ribbons, Christmas trees, poinsettia flowers (our Christmas flowers), carousels and happy children cheers and of course, our traditional boats covered in twinkle lights.
There is no snow. It rarely snows in this blessed part of the world and the cold is really mild, so that one can enjoy a long walk along the cobble stoned streets, beneath the majestic rock of the Acropolis, hear the street musicians perform, witness joyful happenings and in the morning of Christmas-, New year- and Twelve nights-eve you can hear the kids singing “kalanda” (Carols) with their traditional “trigona” (metallic triangles which they bang using a small metallic drum stick – really noisy but at the same time – pleasant when combined with children’s voices!).
There’s a lovely smell traveling the air. The kind of smell that makes the body want to follow the nose through the open windows of the houses and the open doors of the bakeries. The kind of smell that, according to tradition, forces the goblins (“kallikantzari”), who spend an entire year sawing down the tree of the earth, to drop what they are doing and come visit humans, thus leaving the tree to heal again.
Passed on from generation to generation, from mother to daughter and considered as part of the family inheritance, the secret recipes of Christmas sweets come out of the drawers for the creation of the snow white “kourambiedes”, generously covered with dusted sugar, the mouthwatering “melomakarona” , with the warm scent of clove, cinnamon and orange, dipped in honey syrup – as my grandmother used to say “just enough to be a tad crispy on the outside and mellow on the inside” – and last, but not least, the honey covered “diples” (folds), with trimmed nuts (for more information, read our recipes article).
If you join the Athens food tour of Athens Walking tours, you will have the opportunity to be guided through the very “source” of the fresh ingredients for the creation of these sweets. A place which right before and during the Christmas period busts more than ever with life: The Athenian Market!
Your guide will see to it, that you will taste the original Greek Christmas sweets and will also show you where you can obtain the best Almonds, nuts, fresh oranges, as well as tasty, thick honey, dried fruits and all kinds of spices.
As a special treat, this year, grandma’s recipe for tasty melomakarona and kourambiedes will be offered to all guests who will be joining the Cooking lesson! So, join the Christmas spirit and prepare some Greek Christmas sweets for your family!
HINT: The hill of the Acropolis, as well as most archaeological sites will be closed during the 25th and 26th of December and January 1st.. Therefore, if you wish to visit this renowned landmark, you should make arrangements for one of Athens Walking tours either before or after these dates.