What's Happening in January.
What happens in January starts in December - Christmas launches the twelve-day season which runs through Epiphany on January 6th. Epiphany celebrations in towns by the sea or by rivers will include the local priest throwing a cross into the waters, where it is retrieved by intrepid young men who dive for it in the frigid waters, a blessing of the waters which dates back to ancient times. As the day of the baptism of Jesus, many Greek Orthodox families arrange children's baptisms for this day. If you're in the Athens area, Piraeus, the port of Athens, has a particularly lavish ceremony.
New Year's Eve is celebrated more and more vigorously in Athens and elsewhere, and larger hotels usually host a party. On the islands, including Paros and Chios, ship models are created and carried around by groups of fishermen singing songs. January 1st is the feast of Saint Basil the Great, when many Greeks practice the old custom of slicing a piece of the Vassilopita (Basil Cake) in hopes of finding a lucky coin concealed by the baker. Though St. Nikolaos may seem to be a more obvious inspiration for Santa Claus, it's St. Basil who visits with gifts on this day. Playing cards on a table covered with lucky green felt is also supposed to assure abundance the whole year through; more modern Greeks flock to the newly-thriving casinos.
Around January 8th, some villages in Northern Greece celebrate the Gynaecocratia, a traditional exchange of male and female roles, much to the amusement of visitors. For one day, the sidewalk cafenions will be filled with wives rather than husbands. Was this what it was like way back in Minoan Crete?
On January 30th, the island of Tinos celebrates the discovery of a miraculous healing icon of the Virgin Mary, found on this date in 1823.
Greek Carnival often starts in January, but in 2014, the festivities will begin in early February with most of the actual celebrations, though two days of the main Carnival weekend fall in March. You can see the carnival dates here.
Cultural Events in January:
For more events, check out the Athens News website: Athens News.
January Name Days, Festivals, and Events
January 1st - Saint Basil the Great - Widely observed. Cakes are baked with tokens for luck in the New Year.
January 1st - New Year's Day - Andros - Celebrations
January 1st - Western New Year's Day
January 1st - New Year's Day - Plaki - Customs from Farasson in Cappadocia
January 1st - New Year's Day - Enborio Eordaias near Kozani - traditional music and dance
January 1st - New Year's Day - Polikasro near Kilkis - costumed folklore presentations
January 6th - Epiphany - observed widely.
January 6th - Epiphany - Piraeus outside of Athens - Traditional diving for the cross
January 6th - Epiphany - Kozani - Lougatsaria and Karnavalia celebrations
January 6th - 8th - Epiphany - Kastoria - Ragoutsiaria
January 6th - Name day for Fotini
January 7th - St. John the Baptist
January 7th - Katarini (Katafigion) - Prodomition
January 8th - Seres - Monoklissia and Nea Petra - exchange of male and female roles
January 8th - Seres - Strimi, Zilagani, Nea Kassani - exchange of male and female roles
January 8th -At the village of Aspro near Kilkis - exchange of male and female roles
January 17th - St. Anthony the Great
January 17th - St. Adonis
January 18th - St. Athanasios and Cyril
January 21st - St. Maximos the Confessor
January 22nd - St. Timothy the Apostle
January 25th - St. Gregory the Theologian
January 27th - St. Crisotomos
January 28th - St. Ephraim the Syrian
January 30th - The Three Hierarchs
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