Christmas in Kos
The Christmas season on Kos Island mirrors most of the rest of Greece with traditions like glowing streetlights, well-lit trees in nearly every house shop and town square, and celebratory feasts at every table.
Kos does have a few unique Christmas and New Year’s traditions. Still, the islanders also enjoy national traditions like the children singing carols door to door to the tune of chimes or music triangles. In addition, on Kos, as is practiced throughout much of Greece, the woman of the house customarily prepares wonderful almond cookies known as “kourambies,” which are sweetbread cookies coated in powdered sugar.
An even more significant Christmas tradition is baking the giant, buttery “Christopsomo” loaves, or the bread of Christ. This soft and fluffy bread fills homes and shops with fragrances of cinnamon, mahleb, anise, orange, and walnuts. The bread is blessed to bring a prosperous new year. The household head breaks it by hand when served at the Christmas table, as – according to tradition – no knife should touch Christ’s bread.
Christmas in Kos means sweet delicacies and mouthwatering treats as well. For Christmas day, custom calls for every housewife to prepare a sweet, buttery bread called “Christopsomo.” Another charming tradition is serving the marvelous honey “melomakarono” cakes. Kos families also make the Greek traditional “dolmadakias,” which are single-bite delicacies of rice and ground meat rolled up in tender vine leaves.
Hanging a wreath of wheat or hay above the door will surely bring the islanders love, health, and prosperity. Though this is common even internationally, Koans practice a colorful flare in their creations.
One of the fascinating traditions on the island is for unmarried girls to gather water from the nearest spring or fountain, returning in utter silence to be blessed with marriage in the coming year.
Christmas on Kos means the towns and villages come alive with bazaars, get-togethers, and organized events where families and visitors collect to celebrate the season’s love, joy, and togetherness.
The square in front of the Agora indoor market in Kos Town shines with bright lights and colors and is warmed with the joyous music of the season. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, all through the crowd, the goodwill wish of chrónia pollá! (χρόνια πολλά), which means “many years” echoes everywhere.
Take advantage of the Christmas Bazaar to taste unique seasonal delicacies and buy ornaments and souvenirs. There will be entertainment for young and old, and Santa will visit to give the little ones the opportunity to take pictures seated on his lap.
The St. Nicholas procession in Eleftherias Square is another unique tradition on Kos Island. Do note that this event takes place on December 6, Saint Nicholas Day, a legal holiday on the island, when most shops will be closed. But you can have a seasonal meal at a local tavern.