Christmas Eve Carol Singing – Kalanta

As I am writing these lines, I know that the streets of Greece are filled with little children going from door to door to sing the Christmas Carols. Most are carrying the triangles, some, more adventurous with the recorder or any other instruments available. The Greek tradition is that on the three most important eves of the year, Christmas, New Year and the Epiphany, the kids will be spreading the word, via specific Carols (Kalanta).

I remember as a child, we used to live in the center of Athens, and it took years for my parents to let us join the Kalanta singers. My brother and I used to try and wake up early to be the first one to sing the kalanta to my parents. My dad had this quirky tradition of rewarding the one that put the effort into being the first to sing the kalanta with a five thousand drachma bill (about a tener in sterling)! Most of the years we were bitten by the bell, as kids would start as early as 5-6 o’clock!  When we were old enough (and possibly a bit too old!) we used to go with my friend around the neighborhood and into all the shops and sing. The reward, traditionally is a traditional greek sweet and a few coins. In Greece all the presents are exchanged on New Years day and that meant that with our pocket money we could shop for our family, our friends and of course for us!

For me, it’s really odd on this day for nobody to ring the doorbell, and it is one of those little things I miss from home. London can be fabulous around Christmas time, but somehow I am still expecting noisy Christmas Carol singers outside my house on Christmas Eve that never arrive.

So here are the kalanta, from me to you, even online is better than nothing!

As we say in Greece every time we have a celebration that occurring annually, Chronia Polla, (in many years to come)! Special wishes to all the Greeks abroad today! ΧΡΟΝΙΑ ΠΟΛΛΑ ΣΕ ΟΛΟΥΣ ΤΟΥΣ ΞΕΝΙΤΕΜΕΝΟΥΣ! Καλά Χριστούγεννα, όπου κι αν έχετε χτίσει τις φωλιές σας!

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