December 23rd in Central Macedonia

13 December 2022

Greece is a place that hosts many people from all over the world every year during the summer months. For this reason, Greek customs and festivals are known around the world – and usually unforgettable after a visit to the country. But what happens in winter in Greece?

One thing that cannot be doubted is that no visitor from outside Greece thinks of it as a traditional Christmas destination. Nevertheless, the Greeks as a people closely connected to religion have a daily life, which is based on a series of symbols related to their religious beliefs.

Christmas is one of the Christian holidays celebrated by the Greeks, especially ritually in the Greek countryside. The Christmas season is an opportunity for each one to meet loved ones and family and relive experiences they carry from their childhood.

One of the most characteristic traditions of Christmas, but also a particularly festive character, is the lighting of the fire, which is popularly known as the “Kolida Babo” custom. It happens every December 23, the eve of Christmas, when locals gather to remember the fires lit by the shepherds to warm baby Jesus. In the past, they used to gather in the neighborhoods to announce the birth of Christ by singing Christmas carols, which is where the name of the custom comes from (: Carol, grandma!). More generally, though, until today there are many different interpretations of the cultural event’s origin.

One of the most characteristic traditions of Christmas, but also a particularly festive character, is the lighting of the fire, which is popularly known as the “Kolida Babo” custom. It happens every December 23, the eve of Christmas, when locals gather to remember the fires lit by the shepherds to warm baby Jesus. In the past, they used to gather in the neighborhoods to announce the birth of Christ by singing Christmas carols, which is where the name of the custom comes from (: Carol, grandma!). More generally, though, until today there are many different interpretations of the cultural event’s origin.

Be that as it may, however, Kolida Babo is a cultural event that brings people together by introducing them to a strong Christmas atmosphere. Mulled wine and local traditional dishes are perfectly combined next to every fire with a pervasive feeling of belonging spreading joy among friends and families. Therefore, usually, only the ashes of the fire mark the end of the fun!

So, this is the custom that welcomes and heralds the beginning of the Christmas holidays with smiles, warmth, music, open hearts, and experiences that all locals carry from their childhood. For this reason, Kolida Babo is one of the favorite Christmas events in northern Greece.

by Eleni Ntouvaleti