The Twelve Days of Greek Christmas and other stories


One more year of Delicious Legacy Podcasts!

We conclude this year's episodes with a super Christmas Special episode!

We look back at the foods and feasts of pre-Christian Rome and Greece, and then we have a lovely quick look at some interesting periods of history and how these shaped what we eat today!

But the Greek Christmas doesn't end on Christmas Day. You didn't persevere with the Lent for 40 days -OK none of us did the whole thing actually- to just get one day of feasting, it hardly seems a fair exchange! No there's more, lot more, to come. Back to my immediate family's home (mum, dad, brother, me and our other yiayia), there is a lot more wholesome cooked food waiting! Both mum and grandma can't help themselves but cook a mountain of food, as if we haven't eaten for months, as if we're waiting the whole long lost family to appear -all 50 of them- for Christmas Dinner!

And the celebratory dishes are many; Pork is the main meat, and there are countless dishes with it. The reason is Gourounohara: The most popular tradition in most regions of Greece is called Gourounohara or "Pig Joy" and takes place around Christmas. This is the slaughter of the pig which has been fattening away for a year. Traditionally it was always been a time of revelry. Not that the pig was joyous with the prospect of its sacrifice, this is certain, but a joy for the village folk. The felled animal will be savoured all winter long, usually as the only source of meat. Hence the tradition calls for pork on Christmas day either whole on the spit as my family did, or cooked in various different ways.

Another one is Christopsomo which is a festive spiced bread: made at Christmas time and traditionally eaten on Christmas eve. It was always made with the most expensive ingredients. Highly sifted white flour, sesame seeds, and spice mixtures such as aniseed, orange, bay, cinnamon and cloves.

On top, other dishes that are a must and adorn every festive dinner table; Stuffed cabbage leaves with veal's mince and spices, in a thick avgolemno sauce, pork tenderloin cooked with chestnuts and apricots, capon/cockerel stuffed with Swiss Chard, rice and wild fennel, mountains of nut and honey, syrup-soaked cookies called melomakarona, AND kourampiethes (almond shortbread biscuits related to numerous middle eastern biscuits known as qurabiya found in Ottoman and Persian cuisine) and countless pies; savoury meaty ones for New Years Eve (eaten late, around midnight just before we go out for an all nighter) and sweet cake like pie for New Years Day lunch: Vassilopita is prepared for Saint Vasileios (Agios Vassilis) our version of Santa Claus with a coin inside for good luck. 

These, any many many more traditions, dishes and memories from Christmas past, from Greece and beyond!

Christmas Music my ArtsyGoat:

End music theme "Romylia" by Pavlos Kapralos

Thank you, and Kala Christougenna (Merry Christmas) and Happy New Year to all!

The Delicious Legacy

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