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Top Ten Greek New Year's Customs and Traditions



New Year at The Acropolis  Athens, Greece
New Year at The Acropolis

Athens, Greece
Every culture has its own unique, sometimes quirky, customs and traditions.

Greece is no exception and New Year celebrations here seem to have more than their fair share.

 Santa Claus is not Saint Nicholas, but Saint Vassilis, (Basil the Great), being Greek and true to form, he arrives late, a week late; on New Year’s Eve.

Saint Vassilis, or Agios Vassilis has much in common with Saint Nicholas;

 Both are known for their compassion, kind heartedness and their commitment to helping the unfortunate, both bring gifts around Christmastime, one just a little later than the other.


Agios Vassilis, born in Caesarea, capital of Cappadoccia (Today, Turkey) in 330 AD, came from a devout Christian family.


Agios Vassilis  Saint Basil/Basil the Great
Agios Vassilis

Saint Basil/Basil the Great

 After studying at the famous Academy in Athens, Agios Vassilis, in 357 AD, traveled to Palestine and Syria, where he studied monasticism.

He spent his later years trying to stamp out Aryanism (The main heresy denying the divinity of Christ, originating with the Alexandrian priest Arius) and in 370 AD became bishop of Caesarea.

Agios Vassilis, as well as giving all his wealth to the poor, founded the first hospitals, orphanages, and sanctuaries for the homeless, known as the Vassileiada Institution.

Agios Vassilis died in 379 AD, on the first of January, which is now celebrated, by the Greek Orthodox Church, as his Feast Day.


After thirty eight years in Greece, I thought I was familiar with most of the Greek New Year's goings on, but, whilst checking up on a few facts, I discovered many more which I had never heard of.


Here’s a list of the ten more popular Greek New Year customs and traditions:


1. Ta Kalanda (Carol singing)


Ta Kalanda  Greek Carol Singing  Nikiforos Lytras
Ta Kalanda

Greek Carol Singing

Nikiforos Lytras
Children are up and about, bright and early on New Year’s Eve and go from house to house, singing the KALANDA, Greek Christmas Carols, usually only the one, same song,  accompanied by a triangle.


2. Card playing.

Paul Cezanne  "The Card Players"
Paul Cezanne

"The Card Players"
As New Year is considered a lucky time, it’s the perfect excuse for a card-playing marathon, and I mean marathon!

The games go on for hours, starting early evening, and lasting until midnight, usually at home, but there are organised games in the “Kafenion” (Coffee shop) and clubs.

3. Pomegranate smashing.

Pomegranate  Gatya Kelly
Pomegranate

Gatya Kelly

A POMEGRANATE, an ancient symbol of prosperity and good luck, is hung above the door throughout Christmas and at midnight, on New Year’s Eve, the lights are turned out, the pomegranate is then hurled to the floor, or at the door, where it smashes, spilling out its seeds, the more seeds the better!

This helps ensure luck, health, happiness and prosperity for the coming year.

4. The big onion

Squill or Sea Onion  Skeletoura-The Big Onion1
Squill or Sea Onion

Skeletoura-The Big Onion!
Now this is a custom I had not heard of, neither had MGG (My Greek God), but, on seeing a picture of the skeletoura, (Squill, sea onion) I have seen them hanging about in Greek houses, at New Years, usually with the bulb part wrapped in foil.

A large onion, skeletoura, Scilla Maritima, the squill bulb or sea onion, used by Greeks in ancient times to worship Pan, God of the wilds and of nature, is hung above the door.

This onion, even when uprooted, will continue to grow layers and blossom; it’s said to have magical powers and is the symbol of rebirth.

At midnight, it is taken down, and in the morning, the children of the family are whacked on the head with it, in order to wake them up, so they can attend the church service for Saint Vassilis!

Well I never!

This onion is kept in the house until the next New Year.


5. Water renewal

Bouguereau  "The Water Girl"
Bouguereau

"The Water Girl"
Another custom I’m not familiar with, on New Year’s Day; all water jugs in the house are emptied and refilled with “Saint Vassili’s” water” or “Saint Basil’s water”

I didn’t manage to learn what Saint Basil’s water actually is, MGG is more than useless when it comes to questions like this, if anyone knows, please, tell me!

The ceremony is often accompanied by giving offerings or gifts  to Naiads (Water nymphs).

Butter or some other dairy product, is smeared on taps, or village pumps and springs, to “feed” the Naids, through the year.

I am not at all clear about the details and significance of this water renewal carry on.
If anyone can enlighten me, please do.

6. The Hairy or fluffy stone

Moss Covered Stones
Moss Covered Stones

The Hairy Stone
Things seem to be getting stranger by the minute!

This, I have heard of, it actually means a stone covered with moss, or, depending on who you ask, it only needs to be wet.

A stone, preferably covered with moss, is collected from a beach, a river, a pond, basically anywhere there is water, taken home, and left outside the door.

Here, again, things become rather vague, some say, the stone is to be put inside the house.

  On entering the house for the first time, on New Years Day, you must step on the stone.

This, supposedly, brings luck and good fortune.

Why? I don’t know, nobody seems to know, why the moss, why wet?

What does this stone symbolize?

Anybody have any answers?

MGG has no idea, in fact, he’s never heard of this tradition.

On being asked what his family did on New Year’s Eve, his answer was:

“The usual”

I take this to mean; eating, drinking and playing cards.


7. Kalo Podariko (First footing)

Right Foot
Right Foot

"First Footing"
No confusion with this one, I think it’s practiced in many countries throughout the world, it certainly is in Britain.

At the stroke of midnight, someone considered lucky, or a child, due to the fact they are pure and innocent, are sent outside and ordered to re-enter, right foot first, to bring good luck for the following year.

All windows are thrown open to let out the Kallikantzaroi, evil spirits, or mischievous Christmas goblins.


8. Kali Hera (Good Hand)

Kali Hera  Good Hand
Kali Hera

Good Hand
This is the practice of giving money to children; nieces, nephews, grandchildren etc. who may be present after midnight on New Year’s Eve, or, on New Years Day when they come to visit.

9. The Vassilopita. (Greek New Year’s cake)

Vassilopita  Greek New Year's Cake
Vassilopita

Greek New Year's Cake

Every Greek family has its VASSILOPITA, the New Year’s cake, concealing a lucky coin.

 After midnight, the Vassilopita is sliced and handed round by the head of the family.

A cross is scored over the surface, the first slice is for Jesus Christ, the second for The Virgin Mary, the third for Saint Vassilis, the fourth for the house and then, for each member of the family, starting with the oldest.

Whoever finds the lucky coin has good luck and good fortune for the rest of the year.

10. Agios Vassilis (Greek Santa Claus)

Agios Vassilis  Greek Santa Claus
Agios Vassilis

Greek Santa Claus

Ho Ho Ho, it’s New Years’s Eve, and Santa’s arrived with his sack full of presents.

Even though he has a different name, and arrives a week later, Agios Vassilis looks a lot like Christmas!

Like SAINT NICHOLAS that is, a jolly, red-clad, chubby chap, sporting a long white beard.

And there you have the makings of  New Year; 

Greek style.

Xronia Polla, (Χρόνια Πολλά)

. Happy New Year.

Yiamas (Cheers)

Greek Christmas Customs & Traditions: Vasilopita, Greek New Year's Cake


The gorgeous Gogo's Carrot cake/Vasilopita  Made by Mamatsita with meraki!
The gorgeous Gogo's Carrot cake/Vasilopita

Made by Mamatsita with meraki!

One of the marvellous things about living in Greece is I get to celebrate Christmas twice.

Greeks do celebrate Christmas on 25th December, but as a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

 Santa Claus, who, in The Greek Orthodox Church, is Saint Vasilios (Basil), and not Saint Nicholas, arrives with his sack of presents at New Year.

 (The first of January is Saint Vasilios, or Agios Vasilis’s Feast Day.)


Agios Vasilios or Saint Basil.
Agios Vasilios or Saint Basil.

The Greek Santa Claus

Visits at New Year

Albeit living in Greece for thirty eight years, I just can’t give up my English Christmas, hence the double celebration, which does have its pros and cons, twice the fun, twice the work.

This also means two Christmas cakes, traditional English and the Greek Vasilopita.


The Vasilopita, Greek Christmas or New Years’s cake, takes its name from Saint Vasilios, Bishop of Caesarea.


Saint Vasilios  Bishop of Caesarea
Saint Vasilios

Bishop of Caesarea

 Legend has it, that, back in the fourth century, Saint Vasilios, known for his kindness and compassion, was racking his brains, trying to come up with a way to distribute money to the needy of Caesarea, without embarrassing them.

The idea, of concealing coins in specially baked bread, sweetened and distributed to the citizens of Caesarea, as a symbol of sweetness and joy for the coming year, seemed as good an idea as any to him.

This custom, with its wonderful story, is still observed today, in every Greek home.

Down the years, Vasilopita has evolved from simple sweetened bread, into any type of cake, simple or luxurious, (containing a lucky coin, the Flouri in Greek) to be traditionally cut at midnight on New Year’s Eve, by the head of the family.


Vasiliopita
Vasiliopita

Greek New Year's cake with Flouri (Lucky coin)

Vasilopita is not cut into any old way, the protocol is as follows:

The Vasilopita is scored with the sign of the Cross; the first slice goes to Jesus Christ, the second to The Virgin Mary, the third to Saint Vasilios, the fourth to the family house, and, from then on, in order of age, to each member of the family.

Whoever finds the coin, will be blessed with good luck, health and happiness for the coming year.



Constantinato or Flouri

Lucky gold coin

I spent ages, looking for my lucky gold coin, to put in my Vasilopita.
Then, I remembered, it's in my Christmas cake!

Our family Vasilopita is usually a boring Madeira cake, dusted with icing sugar, but this year, I’m going to try something new.

I love carrot cake, and when I spotted the gorgeous Gogo’s brilliant idea of making one for her New Year’s Vasilopita, I was hooked!

Mamatsita's delicious carrot cake/Vasilopita
Mamatsita's delicious carrot cake/Vasilopita

Gogo, also known as Mamatsita, famous all over Greece, for her informative and enjoyable cooking show; "Let's Eat Together", aired on  Greek national television,  is a mother, forever on the go, cooking up a storm, be it on the streets for festivals, in supermarkets for promotions or at home, for her wonderful family.


The Gorgeous Gogo  AKA Mamatsita
The Gorgeous Gogo

AKA Mamatsita
I don’t know where Gogo finds the time to charge her batteries, along with all the above, Gogo also runs the tremendously successful food blog “Mamatsita”.

Have a look at  MAMATSITA, (Find the recipe for Gogo's carrot cake here) you’ll love it, simple, easy to follow, everyday recipes, that time and time again, turn out perfect results, and I can vouch for that, I’ve tried more than a few.

For “Non Greekers”, don’t worry, just "right click" with your mouse and translate with Google, not perfect, but, you’ll understand enough to create Gogo’s mouth-watering dishes.

Once again, thank you Gogo, for your delightful recipes, I’ll let you know how my carrot cake/Vasilopita goes down with my family, I have no doubts at all about it being a hit.

Mamatsita  Carrot cake/Vasilopita
Mamatsita

Carrot cake/Vasilopita

I can't wait to have a go at making  this delightful cake from Gogo.

 Have the best New Year, Gogo, hope you get  the "Flouri"!

Xronia Polla

(Happy New Year…Greek style)

Learn about more Greek Christmas customs and traditions at the links below:




My Greek Christmas Part IV Christmas Cake:The Proof Of The Pudding Is In The Eating


The Rabbit's Christmas Party.  The Meal Beatrix Potter
The Rabbit's Christmas Party.
The Meal
Beatrix Potter
If you have been following my Christmas cake rigmarole (Parts I, II and II, links at the end of this post), you may have already guessed, I’m eating Christmas cake, morning, noon and night.

I had some for breakfast today, and yesterday!

Why, when my family will not entertain this “Great British Christmas Tradition” did I embark on my plan of action?

Nostalgia?  I’ve been having quite a bit of that this Christmas, I’ll put it down to age!


Nostalgia  Thinking and remembering.
Nostalgia

Thinking and remembering.

Things were going along smoothly with my Christmas cake, even though I do think it could have done with less time in the oven, I sliced off the burnt bits, (No one witnessed that), and hid everything under the marzipan, which, I must say, looked very professional.

At this point, I wasn’t too concerned about appearances.

 “Fools and children should never see work half done”

 Right?

I had in mind, something simple and elegant, after spending hours on Pinterest, inspecting photos of the most splendid Christmas cakes, obviously created by master bakers; I plumped for something like this;

The Christmas cake
The Christmas cake in my mind's eye.

What was I thinking?
This amazing cake called for fondant icing, something I have never attempted.
Not being as arrogant to think I could manage this with out help, I asked around, the most popular answer being; “Make the easy recipe, with marshmallows”

Did I listen to this advice? No, I’m a purist at heart, and wanted to go by the book, until I discovered the recipe included glucose syrup. 

Bad stuff, so I hear.

 In retrospect, as likely as not, no worse than the huge amount of sugar to be used anyway.

Back to Delia Smith and her royal icing.

Nothing is ever simple is it? Now I need glycerin.

This means sending MGG (My Greek God) on an errand to the pharmacy.

MGG is so good, he never say’s no, but, he’s a man, he’s not going to produce his little scrap of paper, with “Glycerin” printed clearly in both Greek and English, to the pharmacist, is he?

And so, he asks for Vaseline.

I kept calm and sent him back, saying;

 “It’s an understandable mistake anybody can make”


Glycerin and Vaseline
Glycerin and Vaseline

It took MGG two trips to the pharmacy, but I got my glycerin!

The glycerin brought on another bout of nostalgia; I remembered my mother.

 My mother swore by glycerin and rosewater, to smooth and soften chapped hands, dare I send MGG back to the pharmacy a third time for rosewater?

I have the glycerin, surely it can't be too difficult to cook up some homemade glycerin and rosewater, I must remember to ask Mr. Google about that.

Glycerin & Rosewater
Glycerin & Rosewater

Old remedies are often the best remedies.
I swear I can smell this stuff.

I read and re-read the recipe and method for royal icing;

 Dear Delia; 

“Where did I go wrong?”

I did exactly as you told me, but this “Gloop” is never going to stand up in “Fluffy peaks”.

I’ve used up all my icing sugar and now it’s too late to send MGG for more; the shops are closed.


Fluffy royal icing.
Fluffy royal icing.

What I was aiming for, not what I achieved.

I’m disheartened, covered in a veil of dusty white icing sugar, as is the whole kitchen; I’m beginning to dislike this Christmas cake intensely.

 “Oh, just put the icing onto the cake, and hope for the best”, my daughter tells me.

The best was not good, my hopes were raised for a couple of minutes, but only until the “Gloop” collected in large pools around the base of the cake, leaving only a thin layer actually on the cake itself.

Tomorrow’s another day, everything looks better after a good night’s sleep;

 I went to bed.

Bright and early, MGG goes off for more icing sugar, whilst I trim snowy pools from around the base of the, by now, “Christmas atrocity”

Extra thick icing was quickly made, and “Fluffed up” on the top of the cake, with not an ounce of enthusiasm.


Royal icing
Royal icing

Make sure it's extra thick this time.

The sides were concealed under a shocking pink ribbon, by this time, I didn’t care that it should have been a scarlet, Christmassy red.

A Christmas tree, from some Christmas past, a sweet little deer and a dodgy looking snowman, that were more or less thrown on top of the cake, would be appreciated by my three and a half year old granddaughter, Melina.

And here it is, the fruits of my labours:


Christmas Cake
Christmas Cake

And that is all I have to say about it, It's a Christmas cake.

Christmas Cake
Christmas Cake

Not exactly what I had in mind.

Yes, I have cut it, it needed a chain saw, the icing is rock hard and brittle, so much for the glycerin, the cake, well, it's not bad, the marzipan is delicious.

Only my daughter-in-law was kind enough to try it, I don’t think it was to her taste, but she was polite about it!

I shall be eating Christmas cake until Easter; I had to make the largest size, didn’t I?


My breakfast for the next three months

In Yorkshire, the tradition is to eat Christmas cake with Wensleydale cheese,
 I substituted this for Greek graviera.

Will I have this Christmas cake  palaver next year?
 No.
I shall make my lemon drizzle cake, always a winner!

Now, what on earth shall I do with my “I’m not paying that much” top of the range Christmas cake tin?

Read about the run up to this finale at the links below:




Flying Home For Christmas. A Good Old Yorkshire Christmas in Leeds


Haworth,  West Yorkshire England
Haworth,
West Yorkshire
England
Most years, since my two children were born, we turned our backs on Greek Christmas and headed “Home” to Leeds.

My daughter, Nais, pleaded with me to write a post about these happy times, little did she know how her request, would evoke such an unexpected rush of nostalgia.

Planning for this exciting yearly occurrence began in late November, with the purchasing of plane tickets and checking that passports were all in order.

Flying home for Christmas
Flying home for Christmas

Suitcases were pulled from their hiding place, I had the most practical set, three, quite large ones, that nestled one inside the other, like Russian dolls.

Only two were used on the trip out, the smallest, and the medium, which was then placed inside the empty large one, this was to be filled with their Christmas stash on the return journey.

I can’t ever remember not paying excess baggage on the flight back to Greece.


Excess baggage
Excess baggage

Always excess baggage!

MGG (My Greek God) took us to Athens airport, it was not often he accompanied us, business would not permit it, on a few occasions, MGG did join us at a later date.

As their were no direct flights from Athens to Leeds, this meant taking two planes, either Athens-Heathrow- Leeds, or Athens- Amsterdam- Leeds, we usually chose the latter.

On arrival, Grandpa would be waiting for us, and after the asphyxiating hugs and kisses, and the 

 “Oh how you’ve grown”

 exclamations, first stop was the fish and chip shop, I love fish and chips!


Harry Ramsdens Fish & Chips
Harry Ramsdens Fish & Chips

White Cross, Guiseley, Yorkshire.

Once the best fish & chips in the world,
 sadly, not anymore.

 We devoured rather a lot of fish and chips over Christmas; I had to have my fill, to keep me going until the next Christmas.

My children became quite partial to them; especially the “Jumbo” sausages in batter, but mushy peas were a no no!

I do hope this is not what immediately comes to mind when they think about England.

 I would go as far to say; they are the only thing I miss, here in Greece.


Calverley Fish & Chips
Calverley Fish & Chips

Our local "Chippy"

I spent much time and money in there!
Worth every minute, and every penny.
On saying that though, I was invariably overcome with emotion, when descending over the snowy fields and dry stone walls, which surround Leeds and Bradford Airport, whose bright lights were winking in the distance.

Yorkshire Sheep
Yorkshire Sheep

There are lots of sheep in Yorkshire.
Farmers have been known to wrap them in blue plastic, not only to keep them warm,
but to make finding them in a snow drift easier!

Swaledales
Swaledales

This to me, this is a sheep, a proper sheep,
 not the scrawny Greek variety.

Just another ordinary day in Yorkshire
Just another ordinary day in Yorkshire

I do have a chuckle to myself, when, on seeing  sheep walking along the roads in Greece,
people say;
"Only in Greece do you see that"
They've obviously never been to Yorkshire.

I'm  home; this is Yorkshire, and as the saying goes;

“You can take the lass out of Yorkshire, but you can never take Yorkshire out of the lass”


Leeds
Leeds

Home Sweet Home
As a rule, we stayed with my sister, as she has two children, only slightly younger than mine, Sophie and Matthew, luckily they all got on like a house on fire, as you can imagine, it was pretty hectic.

Yiannis and Nais were now in “English mode”, I loved to hear Sophie, who took them under her wing, explain English words, and excitedly announce to them, what was on our Christmas agenda.

The first day was given over to Christmas shopping, the children’s presents that is, Ian, my brother-in-law, would take all four children out for the day, allowing my sister Gillian and I to get this job done, and out of the way.

County Arcade Leeds
County Arcade Leeds
Leeds has some wonderful architecture, and a plethora of arcades,
 absolutely beautiful arcades

The Corn Exchange Leeds
The Corn Exchange Leeds

I just adore this trendy, bustling market, filled to the brim with
unique shops and stalls.
One of Leeds icons

The victoria Quater. Leeds
The Victoria Quarter. Leeds

My favourite part of Leeds City Center, amazing atmosphere,
 amazing stone facades

Entrance to Leeds markets.
Entrance to Leeds markets.

Christmas tradition:
Stand pie (Yorkshire men and women will know what a stand pie is.
 This is a large pork pie for sharing between a number of people, one that was specially prepared for Christmas), and a large joint of pork for Boxing Day, bought here.

Ian’s favourite place to take them, seemed to be some small farm, open to the public, which permitted children to pet the animals, afterwards, he would feed them; burgers or fish and chips was the usual, wasn’t he good?

We visited Haworth, no more than a few miles away from our village of Calverley, Bronte country, no Christmas was complete without this day out, and we visited every year.

The Apothecary Tea Rooms Haworth
The Apothecary Tea Rooms. Haworth.

It must be an old photo, notice the " Non smoking sign?
It goes without saying today, well, at least in England, Greece is another story!

Haworth is a delightful little village, tucked away in a valley, flanked by the daunting Yorkshire Moors.

 No wonder the famous Bronte sisters churned out such amazing books, they were surrounded with inspiration.

Yorkshire Moors.
Yorkshire Moors.

Bronte country.
Can't you just picture a brooding Heathcliff skulking around up here?

Here in Haworth is the Worth Valley railway station, made famous in the film “The railway Children” starring Jenny Agutter.


Haworth at Christmas
Haworth at Christmas.

To give my sister a rest, I would take Yiannis and Nais into Leeds city center.

 This trip had to be taken by bus, and we just had had to sit upstairs, the excitement!

We don’t have double-decker buses in Greece!


Leeds bus
Leeds bus

Yiannis And Nais were in their element on the top deck of a bus.
They'd never seen anything like it!

On alighting from the bus, first stop was Lewis’s department store, after inspecting the amazing window display, best bar none in Leeds; we made our way to the third floor, toys!

Lewis's Christmas window display
Lewis's Christmas window display

Never disappointing!

The third floor at Lewis's department store.

A veritable children’s paradise. 

I don’t know how many hours we must have spent there over the years.


Third floor Lewis's toy department
Third floor
Lewis's toy department

Of course, we had to visit Santa in his grotto; my heart would sink when I spied the length of the queue.


  Yiannis met Santa, and so did Nais!
Yiannis met Santa, and so did Nais!

Remember this Yiannis?
 I think we may still have it.
I'm sure I could find it if I looked hard enough.
Then it was off to the top floor of Lewis's for lunch, it was Christmas, self-service was a novelty for Yiannis and Nais, they were allowed to choose what they wanted.

I must say, sometimes there were some rather strange food combinations on their trays!

We spent the rest of the day combing the city shops and returned home, weighed down with shopping bags, again on the top of a double-decker bus, tired, cold and glad to be home, a stiff drink for me and fun and games upstairs for Yiannis and Nais, overjoyed to be back with their cousins.

One more traditional Christmas expedition was to Roundhay Park, taking in Canal Gardens and Tropical World.

Roundhay Park Leeds
Roundhay Park Leeds

John Atkinson Grimshaw

Nais, you loved Meerkats and saw your first one here at Tropical World, before Aleksandr Orlov, was ever made famous through the comparethemarket.com adverts on television.


Meerkat Rounday Park Leeds Tropical world
Meerkat
Roundhay Park Leeds
Tropical World

This place was so humid, it played absolute havoc with your hair!

Then there was Harrogate, why did we seem to choose the coldest day to visit there, or is it perpetually bitterly cold in Harrogate?

 Never mind, we warmed ourselves with the mandatory scrumptious tea at Betty’s Tea Rooms.

Christmas lights on The Stray, Harrogate.
Christmas lights on The Stray, Harrogate.

Every year the same, never boring, a joy to see.

Betty's famous Tea Rooms, Harrogate.
Betty's famous Tea Rooms, Harrogate.
We went the rounds of friends and relations, we took time to see the many wonders of Yorkshire, and we consumed enough food to feed an army, all this on the run up to the highlight of our trip, Christmas Eve.

York
York

The Minister in the background

York in winter
York in winter

You would truly be hard put, to find a more magical place.

The atmosphere throughout Christmas Eve was electric, the children hyper.

 Good old Ian would take the children out somewhere or other and Gillian and I would knuckle down to Christmas Day preparations, unfailingly not going to plan, due to much Christmas spirit.

Bathed and decked out in Christmas pyjamas, the four children took their places on the sofa, Gillian in the middle, the book “The night before Christmas” open on her lap.


The Night Before Christmas
The Night Before Christmas

A yard stick of how much Christmas spirit had been consumed by Gillian!

If Gillian managed to pronounce all the names of Santa’s eight reindeer correctly, we knew she’d taken it easy with the Christmas booze!

With pillow cases clutched tightly in their little hands, they climbed the stairs to bed, sleep did not come easily, and numerous times they needed to be threatened with;

“Santa won’t bring your presents until you’re asleep”


At last; all through the house, nothing was stirring, not even a mouse.

Waiting for Santa
Waiting for Santa

Trying to be as silent as possible, gaily wrapped presents were stuffed into pillow cases, at the foot of beds, to be discovered later, to screeches of delight;

“He’s been, he’s been”

This was invariably at the godforsaken hour of five or six in the morning.


Christmas Day passed in a blur, of booze, wrapping paper, endless Christmas goodies, people coming, people going, the occasional harsh word, and the ubiquitous Christmas snore.

Santa Claus Per Breihagen
Santa Claus
Per Breihagen



What made Christmas Day special were the children.

 The glee on their faces, the wonder in their eyes.

They believed, they still believed in Santa.

After that, Christmas is never the same again.


Read about Christmas in Leeds, 70's style,  HERE

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