Caroling in Greece: A Festive Tradition
Caroling is one of the most beloved customs of Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Epiphany in Greece. It is heard all over Greece, with variations or local dialects of each region. Children and adults, either individually or in groups, go from house to house singing carols and receiving rewards, such as money, sweets, or other gifts.
For children, the anticipation is great and their laughter along with the carols is spread everywhere! With the famous iron triangle, which they hit with musical instruments, flute, recorder, guitar, accordion, they go from door to door to relatives, to stores, and they say the favourite phrase to everyone “Shall we sing it?”
Of course, you should say it, since only good luck and joy are carols.
Caroling is not just limited to private homes in Greece. It is also common to hear carols being sung in government buildings, public institutions, and even the office of the Prime Minister.
On the day of these holidays, you hear carols everywhere!
Carols are folk songs that usually have a religious or narrative character. Christmas carols usually refer to the birth of Christ, while New Year’s carols wish a happy new year and health.
Caroling is a custom with a long history in Greece. It is believed to originate from ancient times, when people celebrated the birthdays of the god Dionysus.
It is a significant tradition that keeps Greek folk culture alive. Furthermore, it is an opportunity for people to connect with their roots and celebrate the love, hope, and joy of Christmas, good luck with the new year. Caroling is a custom that unites us all, an integral part of folk tradition, festive! It is an opportunity to celebrate together the love, hope, and joy of the holidays.
Verses from Christmas carols:
Good evening, lords, if it is your will,
To sing of Christ’s divine birth, in your mansion.
Christ is born today, in Bethlehem the city,
The heavens rejoice, the whole of nature rejoices.
Verses from New Year’s carols:
At the beginning of the year, my lavender tree,
And the beginning of our good year, church with the holy throne.
Agios Vasilios is coming, and he accepts us all,
From Caesarea, you are a lady mistress.
In this house we came, let no stone break,
And the master of the house, may he live many years.
Painting: The Caroling, by Nikiphoros Lytras (1872)