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the palace of King Otto in Athens (the actual Parlement) - the first Christmas Tree in Greece - thedelphiguide.com
the palace of King Otto in Athens (the actual Parlement)

The first Christmas tree was brought to Greece in 1833. King Otto, first King of liberated Greece and son of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, brought  the Christmas tree tradition along with him, a custom which had started in Germany from Martin Luther.

King Otto reigned from 1832 until 1862, when he was deposed, and each year during Christmas there was a Christmas tree at his palace in Athens. Many families began to decorate Christmas trees, as well. Besides the Christmas tree King Otto also brought to his new kingdom beer and the colors of the Greek flag!

A romantic portrayal of Otto in Evzonas - the first Christmas Tree in Greece - thedelphiguide.com
A romantic portrayal of Otto in Evzonas uniform in front of ancient Greek ruins. (by Gottlieb Bodmer)

In Greece today every region has its own traditions and customs for decorating the Christmas tree. The one thing that is different is that the people in each region follow a more traditional approach.

basil and holy water - the first Christmas Tree in Greece - thedelphiguide.com
basil and holy water

Often, they use a wooden bowl with a piece of wire attached to the rim, and a sprig of basil hanging from it. Family members keep some water in the bowl to keep the basil fresh.

Each day, during the 12 day period from Christmas to Epiphany, a family member will take some holy water and dip the cross and basil in it.

Then, the holy water is sprinkled to every corner of the house. It is believed that this procedure,  helps keep all evil spirits away from the home.  The «evil spirits» are referred to as the «kallikantzaroi».


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