Posts Tagged ‘Christmas season’

Christmas in Greece

September 25, 2017

Greek-CookiesChristmas in Greece tends to be a religious celebration following the traditions and rites of the Greek Orthodox church.

Preparation for the Christmas season begins on November 15 with a solemn forty-day period of fasting and reflection.  This period called Christmas Lent lasts until Christmas Eve.  People focus on preparing spiritually for the arrival of the Christ Child.  They attend church services, confess their sins, and take Communion.  They also fast abstaining from all meats, milk products, and rich foods.

On Christmas Eve, the last day of Christmas Lent, groups of children go from house to house singing the Kalanda, Greek Christmas carols.  It is considered good luck to have children come to one’s home and sing so often coins and treats are given to the children for their songs.  The Kalanda are also sung on New Year’s Eve and the Eve of Epiphany, January 5.

Decorations in the home are simple mainly involving the home’s altar.  The altar consists of a wall cabinet or table where people stand or kneel and pray while facing the east.  Religious icons, statues or pictures of saints, and other religious items are placed in or on the altar.  The most popular icons picture Mary, Nicholas, and Basil.  In addition to these icons family altars may contain wedding crowns, a cross, a prayer book, a censer, a light or candle, and other important items related to other religious holidays like Epiphany and Palm Sunday.

Christmas trees did not appear in Greece until 1839 when King Othon I put one up in his court.  It used to be that the tree of choice was the juniper tree decorated with walnuts, almonds, dried figs wrapped in tin foil and tied to branches with string, and tiny candles (lit only on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day).  Today Christmas trees come from Greek tree farms and are decorated with lights and tinsel and topped with a star.  Some homes put up the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve while others wait until New Year’s Eve.

Greeks who own boats will decorate them in honor of St. Basil’s bringing presents from Caesarea by boat on New Year’s Eve.  Children get into the act by decorating paper, tin, or wooden boats and placing them throughout the house.

On Christmas Day the Dodecameron, the 12 days, begins.  It is a joyful time of celebration that lasts from Christmas Day to Epiphany, January 6.  For many this is a time of decorating, cooking, and buying and wrapping presents.  Friends get together for parties, dances, and much fun and camaraderie.

Christmas Day is the celebration of Christ’s birth.  Many attend church services starting as early at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning.

Each home enjoys a Christmas feast shared with the immediate family only.  Many families, as they gather around the table, will pause before sitting to lift the table three times in honor of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  The meal starts with the breaking of the christopsomo, a Christmas bread eaten with honey.  Roast pork, chicken, or rabbit may be found on the Greek Christmas table along with many delightful cakes, cookies, and pastries.

Here are 2 recipes that one would find on many Greek Christmas tables.

Kourabiedes (Greek Butter Cookies)

Author: Nicole-Cooking for Keeps

 Prep time:  45 mins
Cook time:  15 mins
Total time:  1 hour

Serves: 5 dozen

These Kourabiedes (Greek Butter Cookies) are a Greek classic. They’re buttery, crumbly, sweet, but not too sweet, and the perfect holiday treat!

Ingredients

1 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
3 teaspoons pure almond extract
8 tablespoons powdered sugar + another cup or so for coating
⅛ teaspoon baking soda
5 to 5 ½ cups flour
Pinch of salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter in the bottom of a stand mixer on a medium-high speed for 20 minutes. Add egg and almond extract, mix until combined. Sift 8 tbsp. powdered sugar and baking soda together in a small bowl. Add to butter and egg. Beat another 10 minutes on a medium high speed.

Sift five cups of flour and salt together in a large bowl. With the speed on low, add flour a little bit at a time until completely incorporated. If the dough is too sticky, add ½ cup more of flour.

To Form: Roll about 2 tablespoons of dough into crescents and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silt pad. There is no need to place cookies very far apart, as they do not spread much. Bake for 15-20 minutes until very pale brown and cooked through.

If serving cookies right away. Let them cool slightly and toss in powdered sugar. These will keep for 5 days. If you want to keep them for longer than five days, wait to toss in powdered sugar until just before serving.

*These can be frozen for up to 3 months in an airtight container.

Recipe by Cooking for Keeps at http://www.cookingforkeeps.com/kourabiedes-greek-butter-cookies/

 Baklava

Recipe By:NEONWILLIE

“A Greek favorite that makes everyone think you are a master chef and is sooo easy to make!! I taught a Greek friend how to make apple pie and she taught me this fabulous recipe. The phyllo dough for this recipe is found in the freezer section of most grocery stores. Add a little lemon zest to the sugar sauce, if desired.”

Ingredients

·         1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough
·         1 pound chopped nuts
·         1 cup butter
·         1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
·         1 cup water
·         1 cup white sugar
·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·         1/2 cup honey

Directions

1.       Preheat oven to 350 degrees F(175 degrees C). Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9×13 inch pan.

2.       Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon. Set aside. Unroll phyllo dough. Cut whole stack in half to fit pan. Cover phyllo with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 2 – 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, butter, nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 – 8 sheets deep.

3.       Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows the make diagonal cuts. Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.

4.       Make sauce while baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

5.       Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool. Serve in cupcake papers. This freezes well. Leave it uncovered as it gets soggy if it is wrapped up.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2017 Allrecipes.com
Printed From Allrecipes.com 9/17/2017

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Hardrock, Coco, and Joe – a Christmas classic

April 26, 2014

This vintage Christmas video is one my family enjoys watching during the Christmas season. It is, or was, aired during a show remembering the great children’s television shows that were broadcast in the Chicagoland area on WGN channel 9. The show is called Bozo, Gar, and Ray. The show features clips from the Bozo the Clown, Garfield Goose, and Ray Rainer shows. During the show three Christmas videos are shown: Frosty the Snowman, Suzy Snowflake, and Hardrock and Coco and Joe.

We enjoy Hardrock and Coco and Joe. It is a cute stop motion animation video that plays while the song about the three dwarfs is sung. I think we really like the song and the video is an added bonus. Gene Autry recorded a version of the song, but I think this version is better. The only problem I have with the video is that Santa looks a little scary. If you don’t look at Santa too closely you will find it truly is a Christmas gem.

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