Did you know the Greek Christmas Boat?
An impressive and surprising Christmas tradition in Greece is the «karavaki» (boat) decoration! Although Greeks do decorate Christmas trees, a German custom brought in Greece by King Otto, it isn’t nearly as common a practice as decorating boats.
Boats are a powerful symbol in Greece of moving towards a new life. However, while they symbolize something positive, they also represent the dangers that people can experience at sea.
If the people own their own boat, they usually hang strings of lights and other decorations on them. Otherwise, model boats are decorated.
This practice experienced a resurgence in the 1970’s where people wanted to do something more traditional and closer to their own culture.
Today, in many parts of Greece, the tradition of decorating boats (even in a small village up in the mountains) remains popular.
Children in Greece spend days decorating model boats, and then sing Christmas carols while porting the Karavaki.
In some families, both traditions are adhered to. For instance, in Syntagma Square in Athens, there is always both a Christmas tree and a decorated boat!