Christmas traditions are an important piece of Greek culture. 11years now I live and celebrate Christmas in England but I always remember that smell of Christmas where I grow up in Kastoria.
Pork [tsigarides] accompanied with wine (krasaki), melomakarona kourampiedes, roasted chestnuts, and turkey are always the winners. The custom of turkey its only recent but most popular traditional dish is the roasted pork meat. Other popular food was stuffed cabbage (sarmades), pork with leeks (prasoselino) or other white meat (kotopoulo) with rice. As a child I remember that my family used to produce their own red wine which was like (nectar) heavenly tasty and the homemade baklava and cantaifi.
The streets and shops in the town of Kastoria, and in my village Tsakoni were well prepared and decorated, the houses smell of all the sweet delicacies. As small children were looking forward to visit all houses sing the carols collect small treats and have smiley faces. The carols which we were singing were different carols for Christmas and different for New Year. Kastoria like any other region of Greece, has its festive morals and customs. A popular and well known event is the “Ragkoytsaria” which takes place the 6, 7 and 8 January, the streets of the town are busy and lively, all residents, visitors from other regions and children dressed in beautiful costumes have fun and dance in the rhythm of traditional music. It is like a Dionysian festive the origin of which is lost in time.
However, I do not know what it is more depressing these days… the economic insecurity, wars, violence, fear, death…..many reasons around us make us lose the light and the positive meaning of these festive moments. The smell of these days is a delusion….. and I know that these days I like to close my eyes and live again my childhood be a child again!
So, the smell of Christmas will remain always a familiar memory and comfort to me…..