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Why Greeks decorate boats at Christmas

Featured Why Greeks decorate boats at Christmas

The Christmas boat we see adorned in homes, shops and outdoor areas has its roots very deeply in the tradition of Greece.

Christmas Boat: A New Route in Life

More specifically, it symbolizes man's new journey into life after the birth of Christ.

It is a custom that has declined year after year and been replaced by the Christmas tree, but it does not appear to have been completely forgotten. At the same time, it was a kind of honor and a welcome to the sailors who returned from their voyages.

50 years ago, until the first post-war decade, we encountered the boat in many Greek homes and in the hands of children who used to sing carols.

Intertwined with separations and unpleasant memories, but also as a pledge of seafarers in times of danger at sea, the boat could not symbolize warm family gatherings, present with all members, or stimulate family feeling. Consequently, the boat was rarely a decorative element of Greek houses at Christmas, but rather a symbol.

Christmas Boat: Displaced by the Christmas tree

However, in the early 1970s, the issue of abolishing the Christmas tree and replacing it by a boat was hotly debated in Greece, as it combined tradition with ecological consciousness.

The issue was certainly not that simple, as there were strong arguments from both sides, with references to ecological issues and suggestions from experts on the use of plants and trees other than fir.

And the Christmas tree may ... have displaced the traditional boat, but in some areas (mainly on the islands) they still adorn "boats".

It should be noted that the green twig has always been in Greek homes during the Twelve Days, in the hope of a new flowering for a better future.

Christmas Boat: The custom is respected by those who are related to the sea

However, mainly to seafarers, fishermen, mariners and those with a particular connection to the sea, the custom of decorating the boat still holds, as a form of tribute to Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors, who is celebrated on December 6, for calm seas over the New Year.