Dave and Gerry's Alonissos Island Information Site

Christmas on Alonissos

Christmas is celebrated in the Greek Orthodox church on the same day as in the Protestant or Catholic churches.  December 25 (Xmas Day) and December 26 (Boxing Day) are both public holidays in Greece and on Alonissos the shops are shut so that families can spend their holiday time together.  Probably the major difference we have found is that because the pace of life on Alonissos is so slow and because of the total lack of full scale merchandising of Xmas products, Xmas just arrives at a nice gentle pace rather than a rush.  Having said that it's over just as quickly wherever you are in the world.
About 3 weeks before Xmas Day, many of the shops in Patitiri start to put some sort of Xmas decoration on their doors and windows.  As you can see from the pictures above, to the side and below many decorate their doors with a fine wide ribbon that they form into a large bow.  The pictures were taken to provide a flavour of the style and colours of the bows.  You can also see that shops have Xmas trees, almost all synthetic and lights around the windows.  One of the best Xmas displays is in Eleni Pappou's supermarket where she has a Santa Claus automaton inside the shop that plays the violin!  This laid back attitude to Xmas is in stark contrast to the UK where the shop shelves are cleared 3 months prior to Xmas to make way for the merchandise.  Then in the UK on Boxing Day the January sales start...
With so few shops open in Patitiri during the winter months it actually proves quite hard to buy anything like a vaguely original present without resorting to Amazon, Ebay or one of the other mulititude of retailing sites on the Internet.  The upside of this of course is that it's very hard to hock yourself up to the financial eye balls without a very large amount of effort.
The other interesting feature of Xmas here on Alonissos is that many of the things we associate with Xmas were available from the shops e.g. turkeys, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, dates, chesnuts, nuts, etc. although there are a few things that were missing e.g. Xmas crackers, OXO's, parsnips, sloe gin, sherry and getting up at 5am for the church service at Agia Paraskevi.  Not this year perhaps but watch this space.
At the top of Ikion Dolopon near to the Koutouki Taverna and opposite the Mayor's offices a large Xmas tree shape was constructed made out of lights.  We took this picture after New Year in the early evening and our digital camera had difficulties recording the image properly, but at least it gives a flavour of what it looked like.  To see it in its full glory you'll just have to be on Alonissos at Xmas.
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