kalada - oil painting by Nikiforos Lytras - Kalada the Greek Season carols - thedelphiguide.com
kalada, oil on canvas by Nikiforos Lytras (1872)

The Greek word «Kalada» (carols), derives from the Latin calendae, which means the first day of the month.

In Ancient Greece, there were various texts comparable to the contemporary «Kalada», which contained praises for the landlord and good wishes for the prosperity of the household. At that time, children sang carols while carrying boat models in honor of the God Dionyssos. Sometimes they carried branches of olive or laurel upon which they hung their tips and gratuities.

Children kids singing Kalada (carols) and porting a karavaki. - Kalada the Greek Season carols - thedelphiguide.com
Children singing Kalada (carols) and porting a karavaki.

«Kalada» are typically sung by children, on the Christmas eve, but also both on the of New Years and Epiphany eve. Children go from house to house singing a number of carols while playing a plethora of instruments, such as triangles, drums, lyres, and guitars.

It was a custom for the recipient of Kalanda to gift the children with small treats, such as nuts, chocolates and dried figs, though this has transitioned mostly to monetary gifts over the years.

a video with the Christmas Kalada

and the lyrics

Καλήν εσπέραν άρχοντες,
αν είναι ορισμός σας,
Χριστού τη Θεία γέννηση,
να πω στ’ αρχοντικό σας.
Χριστός γεννάται σήμερον,
εν Βηθλεέμ τη πόλη,
οι ουρανοί αγάλλονται,
χαίρεται η φύσις όλη.

Εν τω σπηλαίω τίκτεται,
εν φάτνη των αλόγων,
ο βασιλεύς των ουρανών,
και ποιητής των όλων.
Πλήθος αγγέλων ψάλλουσι,
το Δόξα εν υψίστοις,
και τούτο άξιον εστί,
η των ποιμένων πίστις.

Εκ της Περσίας έρχονται
τρεις μάγοι με τα δώρα
άστρο λαμπρό τους οδηγεί
χωρίς να λείψει ώρα.

Σ’ αυτό το σπίτι που ‘ρθαμε,
πέτρα να μη ραγίσει
κι ο νοικοκύρης του σπιτιού
χρόνια πολλά να ζήσει.

Good evening
If this is your will,
Christ’s holy birth
May I sing in your noble house
Christ is being born today
In the town of Bethlehem
Heavens rejoice
All of nature is happy.

Inside the cave
(He) is being born
In a manger for horses
The King of all the universe
The Creator of everything.
A crowd of angels are singing,
“Ossana in excelsis”,
And holly is
The faith of the shepherds.

From Persia three magi arrive
With their gifts
A bright star shows them the way
Without any delay.

In this house we have come
May no stone ever crack
And the landlord
May live for many years.

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