Crete New year’s eve traditions

As we are counting down for the new year, in the Greek island of Crete, we Cretans have unique traditions to celebrate the new year arrival.

Photo-Credits-Nick-Fragos
Chania Old – Venetian harbor Xmas lights. Photo Credits: Nick Fragos

Saint Vasilis or Agios Vasilios (a Greek version of Santa Claus) is coming around bringing presents, traditionally at New Year’s Day ( 1st day of the year).

Vasilopita (Agios Vasilios cake) the special cake of New Year’s day is an ancient Greek era tradition. It is a sweet cake baked with”flouri” a hidden coin inside.

Families in Crete are making a special cutting of Vasilopita (the cake) and offering the pieces with a particular order.  Christ symbolically is taking the first slice of cake and it is kept aside, second is also set aside for the household, and then pieces are given in a certain age order to everyone present. It is said that all the luck of the year is for the person who has the coin in his/her cake piece, from the gathered group.

Podariko (the first foot – person that would enter the house) After the frist minute of the new year, on New Year’s Eve, they will ask a close friend or relative, whom they consider lucky, to be the first to come into their house. Very often, a children is preferred, for this special practice as children’s hearts are free of malice and envy and considered innocent. The house would follow the good or bad ome,n for the whole new year following “podariko” of the person who had first entered the house.

Askeletoura Scilla maritima
“Askeletoura” scilla maritima

Hanging of the “Askeletoura” (squil scilla maritima) commonly called the sea onion, a very old Cretan tradition said to have started in the 6th century BC.  This wild plant is not eatable from the animals as it is poisonous and cause a rash in contact with the skin. This plant is special as even after it’s pulled from the soil, it continues to bloom and produce new leaves. Cretan’s believe this long surviving power can be transmitted to humans. That’s why around New Year they would hang the sea onion in their home.

Under the Moonlight, Crete events 2022

22nd Annual August Full Moon events program, organized by The Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, with free admission to selected archaeological and historical sites, monuments, and museums on Friday August 12th , the night of the full moon.

This year, on the hundredth anniversary of the Asia Minor Catastrophe, the event will be dedicated to the Exodus of Hellenism from Asia Minor and the imprint that this disaster left on the collective memory.

As the theme of this year’s poster, we have chosen a photograph by Boissonnas entitled “Acheiropoietos, as a camp for Greek refugees from Thrace and Asia Minor”. The immortalized children of the photograph taken in 1919, were displaced in the camp as a consequence of other disasters brought by the First World War. However, this photograph serves as a timeless record of uprooting and unexpected loss, flight and wonderment in the face of an imposed fate.

Events in the Crete island:

SERVICEARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE/ MUSEUM/ MONUMENTEVENT
Ephorate of Antiquities of ChaniaArchaeological Site of Rocca, KissamosGiortes Rokkas 2022: “Lighting up tomorrow”. Concert by Evanthia Reboutsika under the Full Moon.
The event will start at 20:30 and last untill 23:30.
Free Admission
Ephorate of Antiquities of HeraklionTylisosThe Minor of the Dawn (tribute to Vassilis Tsitsanis). Music event in collaboration with the Network of Cultural Associations of Messara
The event will start at 21:00 and last until 23:00.
Free Admission
Ephorate of Antiquities of HeraklionGortynaJazz music night dedicated to Costas Kouvidis
The event will start at 21:00 and last until 24:00.
Free Admission
Ephorate of Antiquities of HeraklionMalia“Concert Tribute to Iakovos Kampanellis” (Kostas Makedonas). [Co-organization with the Municipality of Hersonissos].
The event will start at 21:00 and last until 23:30.
Free Admission
Ephorate of Antiquities of RethymnoLate Minoan Cemetery of Armenon/Armeni, RethymnoA music performance with Piano and two voices
The event will start at 20:30 and last until 23:00.
Free Admission
Archaeological Museum of HeraklionArchaeological Museum of Heraklion (Garden)Video screening of the concert “IONIAN. Love songs in times of refugees”, for vocal duet, choir and small orchestra, at the garden of the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. Composed by Dimitris Sphakianakis. Performed by Chroes Group.
The event will start at 21:00 and last until 24:00.
Free Admission

The events will be carried out in accordance with the health and safety protocols set by Greek authorities for the operation of archaeological sites and museums to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

We cordially invite you all, to the archaeological sites, museums and monuments, on the moonlit August night.

For more details visit the official Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports page here:

Full moon published detailed schedule for 50 archeological places in Greece

Crète, que faire à la Canée et ses environs ?

Le Figaro article from Maud Vidal-Naquet

Western Crete can be discovered from its capital with Venetian influences, the starting point for sublime beaches and the gorges of Samaria.

La Crète occidentale se découvre depuis sa capitale aux influences vénitiennes, point de départ vers des plages sublimes et les gorges de Samaria. Notre guide de voyage.

Appelez-la La Canée, les locaux disent aussi Hania ou Chania. Une chose est sûre: on ne peut avoir qu’un coup de cœur pour la plus séduisante ville de Crète, qui est une destination à part entière pour les amoureux de la Grèce. S’enroulant autour de son charmant port vénitien et protégé par des murailles, son centre historique est un paradis pour flâner sur les quais et dans ses ruelles. Longtemps capitale de l’île, elle est couverte de monuments ottomans, vénitiens, juifs et grecs.

Lisez entièrement l’article

“Sweet” Christmas from Greece

This very special time of the year, aromas (smells), tastes and flavors, remind us our warm childhood memories. In Greece food is strongly connected with almost every good and bad moments and Christmas festive is celebrated traditional in the whole country, with many different recipes “kaloudia”, from east to west, in the mainland and the islands.

Melomakarona or Phoenikia

The most traditional and typical of all Greek Christmas sweets, that can be found in all Greek households, during the holiday festive of Christmas.

Melomakarona is a kind of a cookie made with olive oil, flour, honey, and lemon. The addition of cinnamon and walnuts makes them unique.

The origin of the cookie is coming from the Ancient Greece. Ancient Greeks at funerals, would eat a barley mixture called “makaria” (rest in peace).

“Makaria” transformed to the cookie we know today, through the years. With the addition of Greek honey (meli in Greek), to the cookie, gives us the new name “melomakarona”.

During the twelve days of Christmas festive, this sweet had become one of the most popular delicacy eaten. Greeks who lived in Asia Minor also ate this delicacy but gave them the name “Phoenikia” (from the Greek Fenix).

Kourabiedes

One of most famous Christmas sweet cookies.

Kourabiedes are delicious cookies (shortbread-type) made with butter, flour and powdered sugar on top, filled with almonds.

“Kourabiedes” word refer to this type of cookies and is origin comes from the Turkish word “kurabiye”, which itself was borrowed from the Arabic word “qurabiya”. Biscuits like “Kourabiedes” are made across the Balkans and the Middle East.

Make your own homemade Melomakarona and Kourabiedes following the detailed recipes in the link below:

GreekReporter | Traditional Greek Christmas Sweets to fall in love with

Photo credit: Bovary.gr

What to do in West Crete

Our travel guide essentials for Chania and its surroundings.
Western Crete can be discovered from its capital with Venetian influences, a starting point for sublime beaches and the Samaria gorges.

Call it Chania, the locals also say Hania or Chania. One thing is certain: one can only fall in love with the most attractive city of Crete , which is a destination in its own right for lovers of Greece . Wrapping around its charming Venetian port and protected by walls, its historic center is a paradise for strolling on the quays and in its alleys. Long capital of the island, it is covered with Ottoman, Venetian, Jewish and Greek monuments.

This city vibrates constantly and is full of pretty trendy addresses: boutique hotels, young or sophisticated restaurants, tempting shops of designers or local products … Chania is an excellent base for exploring the western part of the island.

From Fort Firkas, which houses the maritime museum to the Nério Moro Docks , a stroll along the quays includes welcoming terraces and spectacular monuments: fortifications, the Janissaries’ mosque transformed into an exhibition hall, old Venetian arsenals and, just opposite, the 15th century lighthouse. which stands proudly at the end of the dike, the object of a magnificent walk …

In the old quarters, many old buildings have been converted. Thus the archaeological museum , housed in a magnificent Venetian church, is a must.

Read the rest of the article here on LE FIGARO:
https://www.lefigaro.fr/voyages/crete-que-faire-a-la-canee-et-ses-environs-nos-incontournables-20200722

‘Digital Green Certificate’ for Travel this summer

https://youtu.be/GO8j1cUmyLY

On Wednesday European Commission proposed to create a “Digital Green Certificate” to facilitate safe, unencumbered travel inside the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic, meant to save this summer.

The idea of a “Certificate” was  proposed by Greece, with the support of the  Mediterranean nations,  in order to unlock travel for the summer holidays on 2021.

A proof that a person has been either:
– vaccinated against COVID-19
– received a negative test result (RT-PCR)
or recovered from COVID-19 would be the “Digital Green Certificate”.

“With the Digital Green Certificate, we are taking a European approach to ensure EU citizens and their family members can travel safely and with minimum restrictions this summer,” Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, said.

Digital Green Certificate will include a QR code to ensure security and authenticity of the certificate and it will be available – free of charge – in digital or paper format. The Commission will build a gateway to ensure all certificates can be verified across the EU, and support Member States in the technical implementation of certificates.

Non-discrimination

Commissioner Reynders highlighted that the Digital Green Certificate will not be a pre-condition to free movement and will not discriminate in any way.

Moreover, according to the Commission:

– All people – vaccinated and non-vaccinated – should benefit from a Digital Green Certificate when travelling in the EU. To prevent discrimination against individuals who are not vaccinated, the Commission proposes to create not only an interoperable vaccination certificate, but also COVID-19 test certificates and certificates for persons who have recovered from COVID-19.
– Same right for travellers with the Digital Green Certificate – where Member States accept proof of vaccination to waive certain public health restrictions such as testing or quarantine, they would be required to accept, under the same conditions, vaccination certificates issued under the Digital Green Certificate system. This obligation would be limited to vaccines that have received EU-wide marketing authorisation, but Member States can decide to accept other vaccines in addition.
– Notification of other measures – if a Member State continues to require holders of a Digital Green Certificate to quarantine or test, it must notify the Commission and all other Member States and explain the reasons for such measures.

To be ready before the summer, the Commission’s proposal for the Digital Green Certificate needs a swift adoption by the European Parliament and the Council.

Green Certificate to support free movement

EU Vice-President for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova said “The Digital Green Certificate offers an EU-wide solution to ensure that EU citizens benefit from a harmonized digital tool to support free movement in the EU”.

“This is a good message in support of recovery. Our key objectives are to offer an easy to use, non-discriminatory and secure tool that fully respects data protection. And we continue working towards international convergence with other partners.”

Written with information from:
GTP Headlines
GreekReporter

Fro more information about Digital Green Certificate:
European Union official web site
Euractiv

“Clean Monday” food specialties and customs

Clean Monday, celebrated by the Orthodox Church, marks the beginning of the Great Fast, of the Forty Days Lent, the preparatory period before the great feast of Easter “Pascha”, one of the most important holiday in Christianity.

“Clean Monday” customs are date back to ancient times and includes flying kites (which are symbolic of the Resurrection) and consumption of very special delicacies:
Azyme” bread (unleavened)

  • Lagana, a special kind of “azyme” bread (unleavened) symbolizes the manna offered by God, which is baked only on that day
  • Halvas (Halvah) a semolina-based ahomemade plain and densely-grained confection made of ground sesame, sugar, water and oil, sweetened with honey or “petimezi” (grape must made syrup)
  • Taramas the small salty beads of the red caviar (fish roe)

Read more for “The Greek Delicacies of Clean Monday” in the following “Greekreporter” website link:
Lagana, Halvas and Taramas, The Greek Delicacies of Clean Monday

Greek traditions and celebrations in the New Year’s Eve

A big variety of different rituals are kept and passed through generations, involving the New Year’s Eve celebrations in Greece.

Smashing Pomegranates for prosperity

NewYear2021On the night of New Year’s Eve, they hang a nice pomegranate over the front door. Minutes before the clock shows 00:00, the whole family exits the house. After the year change, one family member (usually a child) enters the house again, stepping carefully inside with the right foot. The specific family member has a special name that would follow him or her for the rest of year “First Footer” and he would be in charge of bringing good luck for each and every one on the house.

At the moment that the “First Footer” enters the house, one other from the family, grabs with the right hand the pomegranate and smashes it against the house door. The cause is to break pomegranate to many seeds and spread it in the room. According to tradition as more seeds fall over the floor, the more prosperity, good health and good fortune will be brought to the family of the house.

Vassilopita almond Cake for Saint Basil (the Greek version of Saint Nicolas)

At the New Year’s Eve celebration family dinner, “Vassilopita” is the special desert of the day. It is a an almond cake witch a baked coin inside, sliced up and served. The cutting of the cake is a small ceremony as the 1st  cut goes to the new born Jesus, the 2nd to Agios Basil, the 3d to the house and the next slices to the family member from older to younger order. Even the members of the family that are not present are having their own slice of this special cake. The lucky member, that has the coin in his/her slice, is the one that would have good fortune for the new year.

For more Greek New Year’s Eve traditions click the link below:

Celebrate the New Year in Traditional Greek Style

I felt safer in my vacation in Greece, than in Manchester at my home

Angela Epstein a  journalist from Independent is describing in his article about her Greek vacation experience in the days of the pandemic.

The author writes: “For millennia, the Greeks have aced hospitality (filoxenia). In fact the ancients had a word for it – FiloXenia – which rendered sacred the imperative to show a warm welcome to those visiting far from home. “

DiscoverGreeceAs she if filling very safe in Greece spending her vacation in Crete she descripes: “There are so many other measures to admire too: the taxi driver who told us the police would pull him over if we didn’t wear masks, and the temperature checks before we entered the hotel building – not only for ourselves but for the cab driver, even though he ventured no further than the courtyard. And, of course, the mandatory wearing of masks at all times indoors – not simply in shops.”

I wish I was still in Greece to offer answers on a postcard. Though perhaps the biggest question of all is, why did I come back so soon?

If you are interested in this, check the full article in the link below:

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/greece-holiday-coronavirus-manchester-lockdown-face-masks-tests-travel-a9665186.html