A Look Into a Greek Orthodox Christmas

One of the top reasons our staff at Farenga Funeral Home can’t think of living anywhere besides Greater Queens and Astoria is the diversity that exists within our community. We enjoy serving families from many cultural and faith backgrounds and see every day how leaning on tradition can bring comfort during a difficult time. We see this as we help families plan meaningful funerals and cremations that pay honor to their loved one’s beliefs, customs, and religion. Many in our area hold fast to their Greek Orthodox faith – and this includes the beautiful traditions celebrated at Christmastime.

Christmas Creche Frescoes Basilicas Sanctuary Jesus AtotonilcoMany of us head with our other Orthodox Christian friends and family members to midnight mass on December 24th, and the home to break their Advent fast – maybe with a bowl of avgolemono soup. Like so many other cultures around the world, food holds a special part in Greek Orthodox celebrations. A Christmas Day feast on the 25th will see platters overflowing with roasted lamb or pork – or maybe a baked goose with apples. We can almost taste the savory spanakopita, tyropita, and dolmades served on the side!

Then there are the desserts . . . pastries like baklava, kataifi, and theeples. And no Greek Christmas table spread would be complete with  the sweet bread known as “Christopsomo” – which means “Christ’s bread” or “Christmas bread.” Flavored delicately with cinnamon, orange, and cloves, the top is decorated with a cross. These can be so beautiful and elaborately prepared you’ll often find them used as centerpieces!

And unlike others in the Christian faith, it is not customary for Greek Orthodox Christians to give presents on the 25th. This is because they actually recognize Jesus’ birthday as January 7th. Instead, they usually hand out gifts on December 19th, St. Nicholas Day for Easter Christian counties, or later on New Year’s Eve.

Whether you hold fast to these Greek traditions, or you share a different heritage with your loved ones, the team at Farenga Funeral Home wishes you all the comfort, joy, and wonder of the holiday season.