Friday, December 18, 2015

The Greek ‘Christmas Tree’

The Christmas tree is one of the most identifiable Christmas objects in the world. However, despite existing in all Christian societies and cultures today, we do find a number of unique features in different countries and traditions. Such is the case with Greece, whereby the traditional ‘Christmas Tree’ is actually a boat.

When looking at Greece’s ancient, Byzantine and modern history, it is apparent that it is an important maritime country. Today it has one of the largest fleets in the world, whilst also the thousands of islands contribute to this maritime tradition. Therefore, the boat, the sea and anything to do with maritime life, is significant for each Greek. The traditional boat, as a Christmas symbol has a long history. During the Christmas period people would decorate a small, mainly wooden, boat, symbolising therefore their thankful spirit for the safe return of their loved ones, who were on a boat at that time. 

King Otto, in 1833, first introduced the Christmas tree in Greece. This resulted in the decline of the boat. Even today, where not every, or most, families in Greece have a loved one working in anything to do with the sea, Greece still maintains this tradition, especially on the Greek islands. Interestingly enough, a few years back, in the middle of Athens they placed not a tall and glamourous tree from Northern Europe, but a large boat, showing everyone the true and centuries old Greek tradition. 

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