Sunday, 9 December 2012

How to survive a Greek Christmas

Christmas is such a fun time of year: imagine a sparkling Christmas tree with the family around the table calmly eating and enjoying the nice food whilst wearing cracker party hats... Well, except if you're at a Greek Christmas party that is! (You probably know by now that the words "family" and "calm" don't belong in the same sentence).

If you're having a Greek Christmas this year, I'm going to offer you some tips to surviving it and what to be prepared for!

1) Arrive a few hours late. The food won't be ready when they say it will be and the hosts may still be cleaning as well as cooking and you can't come before the house has been vacuumed; that will cause great shame upon them!

2) Take your shoes off. Don't you dare get mud on their freshly cleaned carpet or polished floor...

3) Compliment how amazing the house is looking and how delicious the food smells.

4) Greet everyone excitedly while all talking at each other at the same time loudly and of course, kissing everyone's cheeks. If a thea (aunt) wants to squeeze your cheeks as well, just let her... it brings her joy and hopefully she might slip you some cash later for being her favourite! (Yes, Greeks have favourites, shhh).

5) If you're a woman, offer to help the hostess. Your offer will be rejected as the hosts don't want to appear they can't handle it, so you have to be just as stubborn and help anyway. A good 'nikokira' (housewife) will help around the house, and any woman who is lazing around will be noticed.

6) If you're under the age of 21, single, or are a mother with a baby, you may well get placed on the "kiddie table"... The family will then expect the older "kids" to babysit for the rest of the night while they get hammered.

7) Be prepared for what I like to call "pressure talks". This is where your family will proceed to make things really awkward for you asking you when you are going to get married, or when are you going to make another baby. Just tell them "soon" then fire a question back at them which will likely send them off on a rant. Good questions are anything that involve them being able to gossip for a while! "So I hear Eleni from the supermarket was seen with Alex the barber the other day...."

8) The food is going to be phenomenal; no doubt about it, so enjoy it. Greeks are pushy though and will have made enough food for 10 servings each just so they can keep forcing food down your neck for hours on end. Yes it's going to hurt but I don't care how full you get, you don't ever reject food when it is offered to you, it is just not worth the argument and the anorexic comments that will proceed. Just eat. Alternatively, eat really slowly so your plate is always full and you may get left alone for a while!

9) The predictability of gifts yet still managing to act surprised and overjoyed is an art that takes years to master, but try getting good at it. Yiayia loves to hear how you adore those knitted booties she made you, again, even though they are normally made for newborn babies...

10) The goodbye... It's late, everyone's drunk and have been dancing the Vareto until the small hours of the morning. You're exhausted and looking forward to getting into bed with your full belly. You're excited to see that people are getting up and putting their coats on! You're at the front door kissing everyone and saying goodbye, then a small conversation starts and before you know it, it has taken an hour to stop?! To save standing around in your coat and scarf by the front door for an hour, I suggest just lighting up a cigar and dealing another round of 'kounka' and make some money gambling while everyone does their goodbyes!

So there you have it, 10 top tips to surviving a Greek Christmas! What are some of your top tips? Καλά Χριστούγεννα everyone!


  1. This blog is a tremendously great idea! It struck me funny when I pulled up this page, as I had taken a photo of my own Christmas tree that looks exactly like the one in the picture! It even has the same lighting. Thanks for all of the funny posts and stories!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment and kind words!


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