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A VERY MUSICAL CHRISTMAS: TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS CAROLS & CRETAN MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.

It’s Christmas in Crete, and the island is coming alive with holiday cheer! Get a sense of the festive spirit by taking a walk down the quaint alleyways and visiting the bustling town squares; the ring of carol singing is the true sound of Christmas here.

“Traditional christmas carols and cretan instruments”

It’s Christmas in Crete, and the island is coming alive with holiday cheer! Get a sense of the festive spirit by taking a walk down the quaint alleyways and visiting the bustling town squares; the ring of carol singing is the true sound of Christmas here.

Wake up on the morning of Christmas Eve to the sound of children knocking on doors and asking, “shall we sing?”. No house, small business or office is overlooked by these young carollers, who tour the streets of their neighbourhoods, bringing a merry dose of holiday spirit to one and all by singing the “calanda”:

“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.”

This customary Christmas carol truly evokes the spirit of the yuletide season and can be heard throughout Greece. As the children arrive, entire households crowd around the doorway to listen. It’s the sound of their childhood, passed down from generation to generation and received with a hint of nostalgia and an offering of coins, Christmas cookies and holiday wishes.

“Inside the cave (He) is being born

In a manger for horses

The King of all the universe

The Creator of everything.

A crowd of angels are singing,

“Hosanna in Excelsis”,

And holy is

The faith of the shepherds.”

  • While most children chime on metal triangles, others play harmonicas or melodicas for extra effect. In holidays of old, more authentic musical instruments provided a melody for the “calanda”, a tradition which has been practiced for centuries by every child, colouring Christmas with special merriment. The strumming of the laouto (similar to the lute), banging on the davul (a drum played with mallets) and whistling of the floghera (a wooden flute) still set the tone for family gatherings and celebrations to this day, just as they did hundreds of years ago.

     “From Persia three Wise Men arrive

    With their gifts

    A bright star shows them the way

    Without any delay.”

     Even after Christmas Day, the festivities are far from over; one way in which Greece differs from the rest of the world is that there is a special New Year’s Eve carol here as well. Once more, the streets ring with children’s voices on a crisp winter morning as young carollers burst into song, a song that’s been sung by every person on the island and will be for many years to come.

    “To this house we have come

    May no stone ever crack

    And the landlord

    May live for many years.”

  • Rejoicing in tradition is one of our favourite things do in Crete, and the holidays are a very special time of year for us. Nothing makes us happier than introducing our authentic way of life to our beloved guests; traditions go hand in hand with “philoxenia” and we can’t wait to welcome you with open arms once more next season.

    We wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!