Christmas is a special celebration in Zakynthos and a good opportunity for everyone to spend more time with his family. Like in most places in the world, we have also many traditions that have passed to us from the previous generations and we all try to keep them alive as they are very important and vital for our culture.
Customs and Tradition
|Children singing Christmas carols|
Kouloura and broccoli
|Kouloura, Wine and Olive Oil.|
The traditional food we eat at Christmas Eve is broccoli boiled in water and of course the kouloura. Kouloura is a type of bread with sweet taste and some of its main ingredients are anise, cinnamon, carnation and some decorative sweets on the top of it. It may also contain raisins and nuts. The dinner starts with the broccoli and then we cut the kouloura in as many pieces as the members of the family are, whether they are present or not. The first piece though is for Jesus Christ and the second one for the house. Inside the kouloura there is a coin and whoever gets the piece that has the coin inside, is considered to be lucky for the whole next year. The oldest man of the family, before he cuts the kouloura in pieces, he forms a cross three times on top of it by pouring olive oil and wine. At the same time he is saying “God blessed us with bread, wine and oil”. After cutting the kouloura and everyone gets his piece, someone usually fires some gunshots outside as a way to share and let the others know about the happy event that has just taken place in his house.
Egg and lemon soup
|Egg and Lemon Soup|
New Year's Eve and "Podariko"
New Year’s day isn’t so important for us like Christmas is in terms of culture and tradition. It is more important for children since after having sung jingle bells to their neighbours and family, they get ready to make the “podariko“. “Podariko” comes from the Greek word “podi” which means foot, and it is actually the first person that enters the house after the year has changed. The first person that the residents of the house will see and say good morning. The person that does the “podariko” is very important and must be someone, usually a child because of its innocence, that is considered lucky and everyone in the family loves and likes. The family rewards the person that does the “podariko” usually with money. The belief of many Zakynthians is so strong, and was even stronger in the old days, that sometimes they don’t even get out of their house until the chosen person that will do the “podariko” arrives, in fear of meeting or seeing someone they don’t like or they think will bring them bad luck.