Athens is being transformed for the holiday season which promises to be one of the most spectacular in recent years as Greece is exiting its economic crisis.
In the shopping center of the capital, at Ermou and Voukourestiou Streets, shops are in a race against time to showcase the most spectacular Christmas decorations they possibly can, with thousands of twinkling lights, Christmas trees and traditional Greek Christmas boats.
City Council authorities promise that this year’s festive decorations for the municipality of Athens will be more resplendent than ever, not only in the city’s squares and avenues, but also in its less central neighborhoods.
The city is preparing to light the 17-meter (56-foot) tall Christmas tree on Syntagma Square on December 10th during a spectacular ceremony which will include a concert by world-famous Greek singer Elena Paparizou.
The Greek capital might not have the natural Christmassy vibe of Europe’s many snow-covered medieval cities, but the Athenians do their best to make up for it with a multitude of sparkling decorations and festive events all around town.
You’ll notice ornamental boats decorated with twinkling lights – the modern incarnation of the old national tradition of women and children making small blue and white boats at this time of year in honor of St. Nicholas.
From Greek bakeries comes the smell of clove and cinnamon-infused cookies and cakes, and everywhere you go, people greet you with a happy “Chronia Polla” (Many Years), “Kala Christougenna” (Merry Christmas), or “Kali Chronia” (Happy New Year).