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Christmas Customs & Delicious Local Sweets

Maybe you don't believe that but Christmas is the second most important religious holiday in Greece, after Easter.

That doesn't mean that in Crete we don't celebrate this festivity as it worth. Chistmas is a great period to visit our lovely island. 

It is usually celebrated with quiet church services, family gatherings and Name Day parties.

Christmas in Greece is celebrated on December 25th, but presents are usually given to children on January 1st, St. Basil's Day (Agios Vassilis).

There are some sweets - cookies and pastries that are traditionally made and served over the Christmas and New Year's holiday season in Crete. They are enjoyed at other times of year as well, but in December and January, they come together to create a fabulous collection of tastes and textures.

Xerotigana

Honey-dipped spiral pastries. These crispy, lighter-than-air pastry spirals are dipped in a honey syrup, then sprinkled with cinnamon, chopped walnuts, and sesame seeds. Definitely an incredible recipe. Ingredients for the dough:   vegetable oil, raki, lemon juice, plain flour, sesame seeds, coarsely crushed, walnuts, coarsely crushed, ground cinnamon. How to make the spiced honey syrup? You are going to nedd white sugar, cinnamon quills, whole cloves, honey, preferably thyme honey, juice of  lemon. 

Traditional Christmas Cake or  Xristopsomo or Stavropsomo

For the Christmas table, the Christmas cake is sweet,  a blessed bread . It is eaten on Christmas day exchanging wishes . Previously in Crete animals were serving a piece of Christmas cake . Rub a little Christmas cake, mix it with bran and used to give it to the animals to eat in order to be blessed them too. The women make it with great care and patience . Kneading is a ritual. They use, fine sieve flour, rosewater , honey, sesame seeds, cinnamon and cloves. Conjure up the dough and get half the dough and make a loop. With the rest make cross with strips from the pastry symbolizing martyrdom comes. In the center put an unbroken walnut. In the rest of the surface often plan shapes like flowers, leaves, fruits , animals, birds.

Kalitsounia

These sweet cheese pastries are a Christmas favorite on the island of Crete, where they are either baked or fried. Unlike many other Greek pastries, this recipe calls for an egg dough instead of phyllo. Ingredients for 6 units: 500 gm firm cretan cheese mizithra, 250 gm Greek feta, coarsely crumbled, 1/4 cup coarsely chopped mint and 1 egg.

Melomakarona - Honey-Dipped Spice Cookies 

Melomakarona are a Christmas tradition in Greece (but enjoyed at other times of the year). All over Greece, kitchens will be filled with the wonderful smell of these spice cookies that will adorn tables, be given as hostess gifts, and eaten in huge quantities.

Kourabiedes - Sugared Shortbread Cookies with Almonds

Kourabiedes (also kourambiedes) are traditional celebration cookies, served at Christmas, New Year's, weddings, and baptisms. Toasted almond shortbread-type cookies topped with a generous coating of confectioner's sugar, they melt in the mouth.

Kala Xristougenna from lovely Crete!

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