The first year we moved here we didn't have a clue as to 'anything'. Not the customs, the food, the people, the traditions. It's all been like a huge seminar.
I tell my husband all the time that each day is like Christmas here on Ikaria. One surprise after another. And it truly does keep you young! One never knows if someone will knock on the door and say, 'come, the mushrooms are ready to be picked". Or the carpenter who did 'not' come the 25 scheduled times suddenly shows up on a day when you are walking out the door.
Take the holiday season here, On Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve the children may or may not drop by to sing carols and play their triangles and bouzoukes. This is a custom dating from the Byzantine years. I opened the door this year and said hello to the 3 children I saw, (ages 9-15), and by the time they 'all' had come in their were 18 kids in our tiny kitchen! As they left, they called out the season greeting of Kali Xronia (Happy New Year). This is said to everyone that you see during the 3 weeks surrounding the new year.
On New Years Day (night actually) the adults go out on this 'Kalanda' happening. The first year we went around with a group for about 2-3 hours of visiting one house after another where food and drink await. Songs are sung and then after 20 minutes or more the group and any new people leave that house for the next. Well, we thought it would all die out around the time we left.... Noooooo, it had started at 5:00 p.m. and didn't end until 11:30 a.m. the next day. Of course, singing could be heard in the village "kentro/center" for another couple of hours after that.
It's not about presents here, which I love. It's about togetherness, making sure everyone gets a little cheer, and remembering why their is such a holiday.