Nostalgia may be a way to avoid today’s challenges and yes, perhaps glorification of the past is as fake as some of our memories, but when images of Christmases past emerge, baby boomers tend to reminisce – often uncontrollably.
In an era when Athens had less traffic, less pollution, less everyday crime, and an air of overall innocence, Christmas decorations were left almost exclusively in the care of downtown department stores.
Family Christmas shopping was a delight, practically a ritual, with hours spent in the few Athens department stores on the week leading to December 25. Historic downtown stores like Minion and Katrantzos lured shoppers in with bright Christmas lights in their windows and Andy Williams season songs on their speakers.
The Athens mayor was the sole public official in charge of Christmas street decorations and the heart of the city, between Omonoia and Syntagma squares, was cheerfully decorated with hundreds of gleaming, old fashioned lights – more like painted little lamps.
City lampposts carried self-made Christmas trees, traffic policemen in posts around the city received presents from nearby stores and businesses, which they kept inside their small round street cubicles, and Santa Clauses roamed the streets outside department stores.
There was an air of unsophisticated innocence and festivity in the streets, which made the season even more memorable for kids. Look closely in these bright-lit photographs and you can sense the magic in the air.
Mystical frames captured decades ago by old cameras, present a world of festivities which were less elaborate and felt more true. Even if nostalgia tends to brighten and idolize the era.
An Athens Christmas carol. Merry Christmas from the ghosts of Athens Christmas past…