The Best Traditional Greek Pastries and Breads for Christmas



Christmas sweets to eat in Greece
Melomakarona. File Photo

If you’re ever fortunate enough to spend Christmas in Greece you will be surrounded by a wide range of irresistible traditional Christmas sweets. Some holiday goodies are steeped in ancient regional traditions, while others you will find throughout the entire country, but perhaps with a local twist.

No matter where you are in Greece, you will be enchanted by the sweet aroma of baked pastries, cookies, and other foods during the holiday season. Indulge your sweet tooth this year and sample some of the most popular Christmas sweets in the country.

Melomakarona
Who doesn’t enjoy sweet, sticky, honey glazed cookies? These are some of the most traditional Greek sweets you will find during the Christmas season. They will undoubtedly be available at every home you visit (and yes, you will be offered one wherever you go!).

They also make a meaningful traditional gift when beautifully plated or placed on holiday-themed trays.

Diples
Again with the honey! Greeks love using the combination of honey and nuts, and these fried, folded bites of heaven are no exception. These confections, made with drizzled honey over deep-fried dough, are an all-time Christmas favorite. Originally from the Peloponnese, this is one holiday dessert you will now find all over the country.

Kourabiedes
Some make them big, while other make them small. One thing is certain — you will find these powdered sugar-covered balls in every household in Greece during Christmas. They are made from pure butter, flour and sugar, and then covered in a snowy layer of powdered sugar. Watch out because these are highly addictive!

Christopsomo
Greeks believe that bread is a gift from God with roots in the Bible story, the Sermon on the Mount. They believe this about all bread, eaten all year long — so you can imagine how special a loaf of Christopsomo “Christ’s bread” is to give at Christmastime!

It is traditionally baked on Christmas Eve and served on Christmas Day at the table when the whole family gathers to eat. It is believed that this sweet bread brings blessings to the family during this holy season.

Christopsomo, Wikimedia Commons, Sttribution: E4024

Vasilopita
Vasilopita is a New Year’s Day traditional sweet that is beloved by all. This poundcake-like classic is not only good to eat, it also has a hidden coin inside. Whoever finds the coin in their slice wins a small cash prize!

Traditionally, the cake is cut into slices for everyone in the family, with one for Jesus and one slice for the house. Whoever receives the coin will enjoy a blessed new year!

Vasilopita, File Photo

Baklava
Balaklava is a favorite any time of the year and is a traditional Christmastime sweet. It is made differently throughout the country, varying from region to region, using different nuts, spices and syrup concoctions. Needless to say, no matter where you try it, it will always be amazing!

 

Baklava, Wikimedia Commons, Attribution: Benreis

Pontic Isli
This traditional dessert is found in the homes of Pontic Greeks during Christmas. It is said that when the Pontic Greeks arrived in Greece from what is now Turkey, they even brought their special tools to make the ribbed design of this Christmas cookie.

The cookies themselves are similar to melomakaronas, but they have a walnut heart nestled inside.

Mamounia
This half-moon shaped cookie is not only sprinkled with powdered sugar, it is also dipped in syrup beforehand — making it super sweet! It comes from the island of Limnos, but you will find it throughout Greece.

Go ahead and indulge this special season, and know that you are enjoying a part of the ancient history of Greece.