When it comes to creating cherished family memories during the holiday season, Athens, the ancient capital of Greece, offers an incredible blend of history, culture, and tradition. Christmas in Athens is a time of joy, togetherness, and enchantment, with countless activities and experiences that cater to visitors of all ages. In this article, we will explore the magical world of Christmas in Athens, where history and tradition meet festive celebrations.
I. Admire the Illuminated Syntagma Square
As December arrives, the heart of Athens, Syntagma Square, transforms into a mesmerizing winter wonderland. The square is adorned with glittering Christmas lights, and a towering Christmas tree takes center stage. Bring your children to witness the magnificent light displays and enjoy the festive atmosphere. Don’t miss the changing of the guard ceremony at the Parliament Building nearby, which is even more special during the holiday season.
II. Visit the Christmas Markets
Exploring the Christmas markets is a must-do activity during a family Christmas in Athens. The most popular market is held in Syntagma Square, featuring stalls selling handmade ornaments, delicious Greek treats, and unique gifts. Let your kids savor traditional Greek sweets like loukoumades (honey-drenched doughnuts) and kourabiedes (buttery almond cookies). The Monastiraki Flea Market and Ermou Street also host smaller markets with a local touch.
III. Witness the Christmas Boat Parade
One of the most enchanting aspects of Christmas in Athens is the unique Christmas Boat Parade along the Athenian Riviera. Every year, beautifully decorated boats cruise along the coast, creating a spectacular display of lights and colors. Gather your family at one of the seaside promenades like Glyfada or Flisvos, and enjoy this maritime Christmas tradition that captures the essence of Greece’s seafaring heritage.
IV. Explore the Enchanted Forest at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) becomes a magical Enchanted Forest during the Christmas season. This family-friendly destination features a towering Christmas tree, twinkling lights, and a festive atmosphere. Children can enjoy holiday-themed workshops, storytelling sessions, and even ice skating at the SNFCC’s ice rink. It’s a fantastic place to let your little ones immerse themselves in the holiday spirit.
V. Attend a Christmas Concert
Athens is home to a vibrant music scene, and during the Christmas season, it comes alive with a variety of concerts and performances. Many churches and cultural venues host classical and contemporary music events, including choirs and orchestras. Share the gift of music with your children by attending a Christmas concert, and experience the joy it brings.
VI. Visit the Nativity Scenes
Nativity scenes, known as “βρεφοκρέβατα” in Greek, are an integral part of Greek Christmas traditions. Various churches, museums, and public spaces in Athens host elaborate nativity scenes that depict the birth of Jesus in intricate detail. Take your children on a tour of these scenes and share the religious significance of Christmas with them.
VII. Savor Greek Christmas Delicacies
Greek cuisine is famous for its rich flavors and unique ingredients, and Christmas is a time when traditional dishes take center stage. Indulge in festive treats like “kourabiedes” (sugar-coated almond cookies) and “melomakarona” (honey-drenched spice cookies). Don’t forget to try “Christopsomo,” a special Christmas bread adorned with a cross, and “stuffed turkey” or “lamb,” which are often served as the main course for Christmas dinner.
Athens, with its deep history and warm Greek hospitality, provides a magical setting for a family Christmas filled with wonder and joy. From the twinkling lights of Syntagma Square to the enchanting Enchanted Forest at the SNFCC, Athens offers a diverse range of experiences that will captivate both adults and children. This holiday season, consider exploring the ancient streets of Athens and creating cherished memories that will last a lifetime. Καλά Χριστούγεννα! (Merry Christmas!)