It would be difficult to find a region quite as vibrant as the Peloponnese, both in its culture and in its people. This beauty shines brightly during the Christmas season, when various traditions are practiced throughout its villages and towns. These age-old customs are still kept alive today, and offer significance to the holidays.
On Christmas Eve, a very special warmth fills each household; a fire crackles in the hearth, in which a very large log is used, meant to burn throughout the day. The house is cleaned with diligence and the "Christopsomo" is kneaded and baked. This festive loaf is prepared with pieces of fig and walnuts in its centre and decorated meticulously, as it plays a very important role in the Christmas meal.
When the family returns from church during the early morning hours of Christmas Day, the tradition in Nemea, a village in Corinth, is that the household's teenage daughter, the "Psychokori", will await the family with a plate of celebratory sweets. These include "melomakarona", "tiganopsoma", "diples" and "kourabiedes".
According to the "podariko" custom in Messinia, the first person to enter the house on New Year's Day will bring either good or bad luck. It is preferred that it be a young child, as their innocence is considered a good omen for the family. A similar custom dictates that the father of the household be first to enter, holding a pomegranate, which he will throw on the ground with great force, hoping that it will break and its seeds will scatter throughout the house. These seeds signify an inflow of money for the family, and it is considered good luck if they are a deep red colour.
In Nafplio, during the sunrise on Epiphany Day, the priest blesses a cross and throws it into the sea, and the young men of the town dive in after it. The one who retrieves this cross is then carried throughout the area by the others, and it is considered that he will have good luck for the rest of the year. These age-old traditions speak to the true character of the Peloponnese, and should truly be experienced!
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