I've had to go to a log of Greek Christenings lately, which means that I know exactly what to do when it comes to gift. I have noticed some gifts traditionally appear. Aside from money, which is also appropriate, here are some ideas:
In Greek religion and culture, icons are considered not just as works of art but as holy objects that help people feel closer to God. Gifting an icon is an incredibly powerful way of expressing love and well wishes to the baby. An icon symbolizes a bond that will stay with the child for a lifetime, and it can hang in their room for years to come. It is an unusual and thoughtful gift that will make a lasting impact.
2. Silver Baby Spoon and Fork Set
A silver baby spoon and fork set is an elegant and memorable gift idea. In Greek culture, silverware is traditional, signifying the precious nature of the sacrament. It is both practical and meaningful and can be passed down through the generations.
3. Christening Outfit
If you're looking for a less traditional gift idea, consider gifting a beautiful christening outfit. This is typically taken care of by either the parents or godparents, so I would check before you buy something.
4. Book of Blessings
A book of blessings containing prayer and passages of faith is an exceptional gift. It is a sentimental and thoughtful gift that will go a long way in nurturing the baby's faith and spiritual growth. Moreover, it is something that the child can revisit years later, reminding them of the love and support they received from their family and friends at the Christening.
I have been encouraging my family and friends to let me know when their name days are. I know for my immediate family, of course, but I want to start honoring name days in addition to birthdays like they do in Greece.
But aside from wishing someone Chronia Polla, or happy name day, what else can we do? How do people in Greece celebrate? Is it much like a birthday?
I just came from my friend's house and I saw there were onions hanging on the door! I asked them about it and learned it was a New Year's tradition. Here's what my research pulled out:
The Greek New Year is celebrated on the 1st of January, but the preparations for the celebration begin on the New Year’s Eve. As per tradition, the Greeks hang onions outside their house, balcony, or anywhere visible to attract good fortune, prosperity, and luck. The onions are hung, infused with various symbols like coins, bread, honey, and olives, representing prosperity, food, and success. This concept reminds the Greeks of their grandmothers, who hung onions outside their homes and gatherings during special occasions, especially New Year’s Eve.
Beyond the symbolic value of the onions, for Greeks, hanging onions also has medicinal and therapeutic benefits. Onions can purify the air and keep away harmful bacteria and impurities due to their sulfur compounds. Additionally, they are believed to have great health benefits and can help boost your immunity, reduce the risk of cancer, and regulate cholesterol levels.
Hanging onions is also a fun activity that the family enjoys together. Everyone gathers around and writes their wishes on the onions and ties them with a red thread, symbolizing good fortune. The onion is then hung outside the house, allowing the wishes to come true. The onions can also be collected at a later stage and used for cooking, acting as a souvenir that remains with the family for the rest of the year.
The notion of hanging onions is an ancient tradition in Greece, and the country takes pride in it. The ritual dates back to ancient Greece, where they were hung on doors and windows to keep away evil spirits and other unwanted energies. In Greece, the land of myths and legends, the onion symbolizes the new life that arises from the depths of the earth, representing hope, fertility, and growth.
I am helping someone plan her Greek wedding. I wanted to make a list of all the traditions we need to keep in time for the big day. Did I miss anything?
The wedding day begins with the ritual of 'Stolisma,' where the bride and groom are prepared separately by their families. It's a moment filled with emotion, songs, and blessings, setting the tone for the day. I had honestly never heard of this. Do people still do it?
An amusing tradition is the 'Krevati' (bed making), where family and friends gather to decorate the couple's future bed with baby items, symbolizing fertility and a happy family life. Money is also often thrown on the bed for good luck and prosperity.
The Crowning (Stefana)
One of the most iconic rituals during the ceremony is the exchange of crowns or 'Stefana.' I believe they need to buy the crowns they want in advance?
No Greek wedding would be complete without 'Koufeta'—sugar-coated almonds given to guests as wedding favors. These bittersweet treats represent the ups and downs of married life and are shared in odd numbers to symbolize indivisibility and shared life.
When Greeks feel happy and are dancing and have a good time, they've been known to smash plates. I've seen it! It's not just a tourist thing - but they don't do it much because I am sure they won't want to smash their expensive dish wear.
I was just at a wedding and they had purchased plates to smash - so basically they were cheap throwaway plates that actually smashed really well. I almost wonder if they were made for the purpose...
It got me thinking - where did this tradition come from? Does anyone know?
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