December 2006

December 2006

  • December 2006, Newsletters, Agni Travel
  • December 2006, Newsletters, Agni Travel
  • December 2006, Newsletters, Agni Travel

What Happens in December in Corfu?

What Happens in December in Corfu?, December 2006, Newsletters, Agni Travel

There doesn't really seem to be much time left over for anything but celebrating one important name day or the other! Gifts to be taken (flowers, cakes or a bottle of whisky for the adults, Barbie or a computer game for the kids), drinks and cakes to be consumed in vast quantities, sometimes more than one house to be called at on the same evening. St Spiridon's day is a real test of endurance, for we all have at least five friends called Spiros. Strategic planning is required to fit in all the visits.

A very large number of Greeks are called Nicholas (Nikos) and their name-day is celebrated on 6th December. It used to be common in Greece, as in other parts of Europe, to exchange gifts on this day, and Christmas itself was strictly a religious celebration. Gifts, new clothes, feasting, were reserved for 1st January, St Vassilis (Basil) Day. From 6th December until 7th January, there seems to be one saint's-day or celebration after another.

What Happens in December in Corfu?, December 2006, Newsletters, Agni Travel

With weather like we have been having for most of November, and likely to continue until Christmas as it often does, this is a great time of year for walking and beachcombing with the dogs. The all-year round swimmers are in their element, and quite a few summer-only swimmers have been tempted by the sun to extend their season.

What Happens in December in Corfu?, December 2006, Newsletters, Agni Travel

The hunters are peppering the skies at dawn and dusk, hopefully not achieving much, but causing a lot of irritation - at times it can sound as if you are living in a war zone.

What Happens in December in Corfu?, December 2006, Newsletters, Agni Travel

The more adventurous, with the time to spare that winter gives most of us, otherwise seasonally employed in tourism, go just a little further afield, across to the mainland for whitewater rafting just south of Ioannina, up into the mountains of Epirus for climbing, and soon we shall be going for weekends to Metsovo for skiing.
While we have the weather, December is full of outdoor pursuits, from sailing to chopping wood, from picking olives (this is a 'heavy' crop year) to coffee and gossip on the Liston.
Tabletop sales, craft fairs, Christmas bazaars - visits to Jumbo and M & S - what a variety of pursuits!

Saint Nicholas

The patron saint of sailors and travellers, but also of marriageable maidens, judges, thieves and murderers, St Nicholas is widely believed to be the origin of the Santa Claus or Father Christmas figure. An all-round good person - look him up on the Internet and find out some fascinating information about him.

The Ex-Pat Christmas

The local supermarkets do their best to keep up with foreign Christmas tastes, but on occasion clearly find our national obsessions a little mystifying. A couple of years ago the AB supermarket had a proud display of jars of mincemeat on which a notice, in Greek, advised that this was what the English stuffed their turkeys with!

The Ex-Pat Christmas, December 2006, Newsletters, Agni Travel

A particularly pleasant tradition is that of the carols performed by members of the Anglican Church congregation while walking about Corfu Town. Dutch, German, French and other foreign residents of Corfu keep up their traditions too, making Corfu a wonderful place to spend the winter holidays as well as the summer ones.

Food For Thought

Food For Thought, December 2006, Newsletters, Agni Travel

Needless to say, food plays a very large part in this month's celebrations, especially very, very sweet food.
Some women still make their own Christmas cookies - but bakeries, pastry shops and supermarkets are fragrant with the piled trays of cookies and Christmas bread.

Kourabiedes are the ones made from crushed almonds and dipped in icing sugar, melamacarona are spicy little cakes soaked in a syrup made from brandy and orange juice and sprinkled with crushed walnuts - you begin to get the picture ? In other parts of Greece, with an even sweeter tooth than Corfu, the melamacarona are dipped in chocolate, making them doubly lethal. Christmas bread is made to a recipe common in Italy and the Middle East, called Tsoureki here. It is sweet, stretchy dough, shaped into plaits and coils and glazed with egg and with a subtle flavour that comes from an ingredient called 'mahlepi'.
A special cake is baked for New Year's Eve, when families gather (and the cake has to be gigantic in size to cope!). A coin is baked into it for luck, and a strict ritual is involved in cutting the cake, with the first slice for St Vassilis, the next for the oldest member of the family, and so on down through the family members, even to the livestock!

Food For Thought, December 2006, Newsletters, Agni Travel
What is Mahlepi?

It's one of those intriguing flavourings without which Greek cuisine would not be the same. A finely ground white powder, it is made from the inner kernel of the fruit pit of a Persian cherry. Sounds exotic, doesn't it? It gives tsoureki its distinctive flavour and fragrance of bitter almonds.

Caption Competition

Caption Competition, December 2006, Newsletters, Agni Travel

Add your caption to the above photo:
December Caption Competition

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Christmas In Corfu

Christmas In Corfu, December 2006, Newsletters, Agni Travel

Globalisation has affected Christmas of course - in Greece roast turkey is now almost universally eaten for Christmas, whereas, in Corfu at least, turkey was at one time boiled and served with the ubiquitous egg and lemon sauce. Greek words have been set to carols and songs familiar to American and European ears, but the children still tour the neighbourhood houses singing the traditional Greek 'kalanda' - with the same music but different words for Christmas, New Year and Epiphany! In spite of the claims of St Nicholas and St Vassilis, Christmas is now the time for giving, as they say.

Christmas In Corfu, December 2006, Newsletters, Agni Travel

A very American custom, that of decorating your house with lights for the Christmas holidays (as immortalised in the National Lampoon classic film with Chevy Chase and about a million light bulbs) has recently been adopted in Corfu, with breathtaking results. It is now an established custom to drive your kids around the town and suburbs of Corfu to see the lights, and it is the individually decorated houses that take the breath away. Perhaps the star of the season is always the same one - opposite Mon Repos, utterly over the top and quite delightful.

Christmas In Corfu, December 2006, Newsletters, Agni Travel

Christmas trees are popular, though there was once a movement to ban them as not being a Greek custom. It was suggested that model boats should be set up instead, decorated with lights, as being more appropriate for Greece. Boats are seen in public places, but the Christmas tree still reigns supreme, often artificial, sometimes real, though the random cutting of trees is forbidden and they must come from commercial sources.

Corfu town is always beautifully and tastefully decorated with cascades of white lights strung in the trees along the main streets and around the main squares.A life-size Nativity scene is set up in the middle of town. Shop windows are delightful, with a heavy emphasis on the Victorian Christmas that probably never really existed but is faithfully 'reproduced' by Taiwanese workers for our pleasure.

Christmas in Corfu is still a family celebration, one that gives pleasure, empties out your purse, raises your cholesterol, and still remembers what its origins were - the Birth of Christ.

And Then.....

The period after Christmas is always an anti-climax, but in Corfu it is one that is slighty delayed by January 1st. New year's Eve, and the custom is for everyone to play cards, honouring an ancient tradition involving St Vassilis and the Turks (so they say). For one night it is legal to play for money. Men, women and children put their cents and euros on the table and deal the cards or play roulette, interrupted only by the cutting of the Vassilopitta. The aim is to play the whole night long, even the kids!

Agni Travel

We at Agni Travel wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Healthy and Happy New Year!
Chronia Polla! Kala Christouyenna! Eftihismenos o kenourios chronos!

Agni Travel, December 2006, Newsletters, Agni Travel

Well, now is the time to flop back on the sofa, turn off the TV (it's only repeats, after all ) and start thinking about holidays. Agni Travel has some new properties for you to consider in Corfu, and is very pleased to be featuring Paxos and Crete for the first time.

New For 2007

Master Bedroom balcony

 - Agni Travel


Overlooking Lakka, Paxos
Sleeps 4-6
Villa Katerina is one of a group of three semi-detached villas with very modern appearance and fantastic hilltop location, commanding beautiful views. Situated just outside Lakka, it is within walking distance of the harbour waterfront, for which Lakka is noted, and nearby tavernas. Spacious, bright and comfortable, Villa Katerina is the perfect choice for a family or group of friends looking for a quiet holiday on Paxos.
 - Agni Travel

Villa Andreas

Kassiopi, Corfu
Sleeps 5 to 10 people
Private pool
A very private villa above Kassiopi with large secluded pool. Set in the midst of an olive grove, yet easy access to a variety of resort amenities, Kassiopi being just one and a half kilometres away. Comfortably sleeps up to 8 people with 3 bathrooms.
 - Agni Travel

Bella Mare

Avlaki, Corfu
Apartment Sleeps 2-4, Pool
Family-run apartments, set on the beach of beautiful Avlaki. With extensive landscaped gardens, and a huge pool, the Bella Mare is a superb location for a thoroughly relaxed holiday. The adjacent beach not only offers fine sea-bathing - it has a top-class, sailing and windsurfing centre and two excellent tavernas.
 - Agni Travel

Spiros Jetty House

Loggos, Paxos
Sleeps 2 to 3 people
Spiro's Jetty House really is a house on a jetty! With views of the colourful and very pretty harbour of Loggos from one side of the house and open sea views across to the Greek mainland from the other, it is rather like living on a boat!

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