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Sailing to Christmas

Old Greek Christmas Tradition of Boat Decorating

With Christmas round the corner many things are just waiting to be done; prepare your Christmas cookies and sweets, buy gifts for your loved ones and decorate the house. Everything this time of year is decorated; from public areas to privately owned homes, the festive mood is present everywhere! Greeks decorate with ornaments and lights their Christmas trees and place a crib beneath it, but this isn’t the only tradition they have...



As Greece is a country with a rich nautical history, people hold on to an old Christmas tradition of placing lights upon little boats. These boats decorate the interior of Greek homes or some outdoor areas, reminiscent of the endless sea journeys taken from some loved ones. Children would in the past, as well as they do today in some islands, build their own little boats, with pieces of wood, paper and rags, and then carry them out with them as they went caroling from house to house.



Besides having a connection with greek seamanship, the decorated Christmas boat has a similar meaning with the symbol of the Christmas star, the hope of peaceful sailing in our lives. This tradition is related to Christianism which connects the birth of Jesus Christ, the hope of prosperity, the deep sense of peace and tranquility as well as the anticipation of families expecting their loved ones back from a long lasting sea journey. These are the reasons Greeks decorated their little boats during the holidays,celebrating life and dismissing death.

The tradition started fading as the years went by- because of bad recollections of departures or loss of sailors - and was replaced by the renowned Christmas tree. Yet, in recent years the Christmas boat has reappeared in some island homes and public squares.

 

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