An interplay between cerulean and laden, grey skies. Rough wavy seas. Quaint whitewashed villages without a tourist in sight. A calm, esoteric vibe, so very different from the frenzied, sprightly summer ambiance. Though you’ve probably never associated it with Christmas, Paros’ spectacular winter scenery offers a captivating, albeit somewhat unconventional, backdrop for celebrating the sparkling season.
Granted Christmas in Paros has nothing to do with your typical Rovaniemi -style, winter wonderland. But on this postcard-perfect Cycladic island, imported traditions go hand in hand with time-honored local habits to create a charming, stirring mix of reverence and joy. This is a time to rejoice and be merry, as friends and family take center stage with cozy gatherings over the dinner table. Though rather low key, Christmas in Paros is quite magical: Packed with true feelings, ancient rites and authentic experiences that go beyond the ordinary.
New customs blending with old traditions during Christmas in Paros
Picture plush trees with twinkling lights as per the western, globalized practice, next to ornamented sailing boats, according to the age-old Greek custom: Paying tribute to their country’s great nautical heritage, islanders continue to honor this ritual which symbolizes the family’s gratitude to the deities for the safe return of the father and his sons from their voyages into the Aegean sea. In the same vein, during Christmas in Paros children traditionally go from door to door to sing the carols while holding a decorated model boat in their hands. Various festivities are held throughout the island in the month of December, including the lighting of a wooden fishing boat on the beach of Alykes on 11/12; the inauguration of the tree in picturesque Marpissa on 21/12; or its Christmas Square with Santa’s, elves’ and candy houses. As (almost) everywhere else on the planet, New Year’s is special in Paros: Locals pray that there’s Northern wind blowing on this day as it is considered to bring good luck. A pigeon visiting their yards is an equally favorable omen; while to ensure sound health, the custom mandates that they touch their faces with a piece of iron.
But, as everywhere else in Greece, the most characteristic event during Christmas in Paros is Epiphany. Commemorating the baptism of Jesus, celebrations begin on the previous day with the “small blessing” ritual: After the church ceremony, Parian priests and their deciphers go from home to home to “enlighten” their inhabitants and scare off evil spirits with a branch of fresh basil. On the same afternoon children and adults’ choirs take into the streets to sing carols inspired by the joyous occasion of Christ’s baptism. January 6th, the actual Epiphany day is marked by the blessing of the waters: An ancient custom whereby local priests all over Paros’ litoral settlements, sanctify the sea by hurling a crucifix into it. Young men shall then rush into the freezing waters to retrieve the cross in question, as whoever reaches it first is believed to have good luck in the New Year. Theatrically celebrated throughout the country, Epiphany is, in fact, one of the most major holidays in the Greek Orthodox calendar; as well as an astonishing, truly remarkable sight.
Christmas in Paros is indeed very special for all of us at the Yria Boutique Hotel & Spa in Parasporos bay. As we are getting ready to join the festivities on our beautiful island we’d like to take a moment to extend our warmest wishes to all of our friends, family, and guests.
Following a great year during which we dined and wined in style, got supremely pampered at the Spa, and had our share of immersive adventures in Paros, may 2020 be even more joyous, lucky, prosperous and exciting! We hope to see you as many of you as possible throughout the forthcoming season. Until then Kala Hristougenna & Haroumeni Protochronia!