Welcome to our first Christmas edition! On behalf of all of us here at “The Foreigner”, we’d like to thank our readers and advertisers for their support during 1998 and to wish you all Kala Christouyenna and oti epithimeis for the New Year.
See the “what’s on” column for seasonal activities taking place during December, but especially the St. Nicolas Eve Benefit Dinner Dance on the 5th should not be missed, nor the opportunity to find Christmas goodies and delicious traditional Greek homemade treats like kourabiedes and melomacarona at the Archilochos and Marpissa Bazaars on the 18-20th.
For traditional foodstuffs from your own country, try Anoussakis Supermarket in Drios which is amply stocked with Xmas supplies (see this month’s wordsearch and win a turkey in the process!) and if you’d rather someone else does the cooking for you - both Laini in Prodromos and Thea in Mesada will be open every day over the Christmas holiday (see adverts on the back page).
You can find baubles, tinsel and all the paraphernalia for brightening up your home at “The Christmas Shop” in Naoussa which is opening just for the month of December (see advert on page 4) and don’t forget your Xmas tree from any of the garden centers on the island.
To start the New Year, what better way to celebrate than amongst friends at the Ephesus Restaurant party on the 31st (see page 4).
Although important, Christmas for the Greek people does not hold the same significance as Easter, chiefly because the Orthodox faith centres around the Resurrection rather than the Birth or Crucifixion and the Greek temperament is attracted by the ‘triumph of life over death’, of ‘truth over falsehood’ and of ‘love over hate’ - the main themes of Easter which springtime expresses so well.
Traditionally, St.Basil (Aghios Vassilis) brought presents on January lst, but exchanging gifts, Christmas trees, decorations and the singing of carols on 25th December have been adopted over recent years. Carolling to the tune (?) of a triangle (“ta kalanda”) usually takes place here on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and Epiphany Eve and is done by children going from house to house, on buses or around shopping areas.
On Christmas Eve, the feared Kalinkantzari demons return, according to Greek myth. The story goes that they spend all year sawing the tree that holds up the Earth and when only a thin string remains, they are summoned to the surface to pester humans. They stay for twelve days but disappear at Epiphany when the priests bless the waters and chase all the demons away. Of course, when the imps get back they find that the tree has regrown and they have to start sawing all over again. Back to work folks!