Christmas in Kefalonia

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to spend Christmas in Kefalonia?
Well it’s certainly a lot different from the long, hot sunny days cruising round the island on the LadyO!
Christmas is a very special time of the year in Kefalonia. Although the most important celebration is at Easter, Christmas is still very popular too.

The official celebrations last for 12 days starting on Christmas Day until 6th January, although the festive season starts from the beginning of December as there are many saints in this month. One of the most important Saints in the Greek Orthodox religion is Saint Nicholas, although he doesn’t deliver presents to the children on Christmas day like most countries, that privilege is left to Saint Vasilis on New Year’s Day.

Saint Nicholas is the patron Saint of Sailors and instead of a Christmas tree that we relate to, Greek locals will decorate wooden boats, and if you go to a harbour area you will often see the boats adorned with lights. That said, Christmas trees are becoming more popular and you will often find them in homes with nativity scenes at the base of them.

On the run up to Christmas local school children perform plays and you can even attend a pantomime by the Thatasso Theatro. ‘Oh no you can’t’ ‘Oh yes you can’. This year’s pantomime was Scrooge, held at the Capitol Restaurant Theatre near Fanari lighthouse. Some of the larger towns proudly display decorations along the streets and there is a small Christmas market held in Argostoli square with stalls, a huge tree and live music playing. 

Then on Christmas Eve morning, young children from the local villages visit door to door singing ‘Kalanta’ (Christmas carols, although not as we know them) with a metal triangle or small drum. The villagers then give them sweets or small amounts of money to say thank you. Later in the day, older choirs will gather in the streets with guitars and mandolins. It’s a beautiful tradition that really spreads the spirit of the festive season.

Christmas day itself is a time for families to get together and enjoy a traditional meal. In old traditions, this used to be something called ‘Augolemono’ which is thick chicken or goat soup with eggs and lemon. Thankfully, it’s more common to see a roasted joint on the table nowadays. Of course, no Christmas dinner would be complete without a healthy portion of homemade wine and festive sweets made from local grown fruits, almonds, raisins and dried figs.

But what is the weather like? I hear you ask. Well, I wouldn’t recommend jumping off the gangplank of the LadyO, as the water is a very fresh 18 degrees this time of the year compared to the lovely warm 25-28 degrees in summer. Although there are wet days and the occasional storm, Kefalonia often enjoys bright sunny winter days with temperatures around 13 degrees, so if you wrap up warm, you can enjoy the natural and peaceful beauty of the island. Mount Ainos, is a must visit. On a clear day, you can enjoy the fun in the snow at the top whilst enjoying the breath-taking views down to the beach with the sun glistening on the water.

So what are we up to over Christmas? Dennis and Dimitra snuck off for a little holiday, visiting Dubai and then onto a cruise to Thailand, returning back on Christmas Eve just on time to spend   Christmas day in Argostoli with Dimitra's mother, and then on to Dennis’ parents for Boxing day in their home village of Agia Irini.

Andreas will be on the island spending the day with his mum, sister and her children in their home village. He promises to drink plenty of wine to help him have an afternoon sleep. If we know Andreas, he will keep his word!

As for us, Nico’s daughter Penny is getting married in Kefalonia in June next year followed by a bit of travelling and then emigrating to New Zealand with her new husband Glenn, so this will be her last Christmas in the UK. They will be coming to stay with us Christmas Eve so we can all open presents together in the morning, along with my daughter and her boyfriend.  Penny and Glenn will then go off to spend some time with her brother Chris and sister Simone at her mums for Christmas lunch, while the rest of us go to my sisters. She only lives a mile away so we will stagger back home after eating and drinking loads. There we will regroup with Nico’s daughters for a few more drinks and some fun games.

So that just leaves me to say on behalf of all the crew on the LadyO, wherever you are and whatever you are doing, we hope you have a magical Christmas and New Year and we can’t wait to see you all again next year on one of our fun-filled cruises on the most beautiful island in the Mediterranean. 

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