Christmas Traditions in Greece with a Carol


Daria (a children’s performer) wrote to me about her husband’s experience as a child in Greece at Christmas time.  Here’s what she wrote:

"My husband grew up in Greece and loves to remember caroling with a triangle during the Christmas season. He and his brothers and sisters would go door to door and even on the bus to sing special songs with the accompaniment of a triangle. Those who listened and enjoyed the songs would have to give a coin or a small donation to the carolers."

Christmas Carols in Greece are called Kalanta Xristougenon. One of the most popular Greek Carols is called Καλήν εσπέραν άρχοντες – which roughly translates to Caroling Evening.  Below you’ll find a video of kids singing part this song, followed by the pronunciation and translation.  (The full Greek lyrics and translation can be found on our song page for Καλήν εσπέραν άρχοντες.)


kalin esperan arhontes
an ine orismos sas
Xristu ti thia genissi
Na po st’ arhontiko sas
Xristos gennate simeron
en Vithleem ti poli
I ourani agalonte
Herete I fissis oli

en to spileo tiktete
en fatni ton alogon
o vassilefs ton ouranon
ke piitis ton olon


Good evening noblemen
If this is your will,
Christ’s holy birth
May I sing in your noble house
Christ is being born today
In the town of Bethlehem
Heavens rejoice
All of nature is happy.

Inside the cave he is being born
In a manger for horses
The King of all the universe
The Creator of everything.

Here are more Greek  traditional carols performed by children in Greece (with English translations of the songs subtitled in the video)…

Daria wrote more about her husband’s childhood traditions in Greece:

"…my husband also loved the special goodies that were made at this time of year. Traditional cookies for Christmas and New Years are melomakarona (semolina wheat, cinnamon and cloves in cookies that are rich with honey) and kourabiedes (rosewater and butter cookies served with powdered sugar). Then there was the tradition he did not care for….

On January 6th, Christmas celebrations wind down with ‘Theofania’ when all waters are blessed. At that time, a cross is thrown into the water and the first to bring it back is supposed to have great luck for the year. Although this is wonderful in Greece where the waters are reasonably warm in January, my husband will never forget diving to freezing and murky waters here in the USA hoping the good luck he would get was not to catch a cold!"

Thank you for sharing Daria! 

Check out Daria’s music site where she’s having a contest to give away a musical triangle like the ones that Greek carolers use.

Merry Christmas!

Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Friday, December 16th, 2011 at 2:03 pm and is filed under Christmas Songs, Countries & Cultures, Customs and Traditions, Epiphany, Greece, Greek, Greek Christmas Carol, Holiday Songs, Holidays Around the World, Languages, YouTube. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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