22 December - A ship as a christmas tree
In two days it's Christmas and we are soon reaching the end of our sculpture network Advent calendar. Some of you have probably already decorated the Christmas tree at home and are looking forward to some peaceful days!
For the 22nd of December we would like to present to you a Christmas tradition from Greece: The Christmas ship!
Even though you can almost always find a Christmas tree in public places and inside Greek houses, there is still an old tradition practiced in many households: A decorated ship for Christmas. There are several reasons behind that tradition. First, the ship symbolizes a new beginning in life and when, if not around Christmas and New Year, is that most appropriate? Also, due to Greece´s location by the sea, ships are simply a part of everyday life and many Greeks are still active in the shipping industry today. The beautifully decorated ship welcomes the sailors who return to their families and at the same time reminds of those who had to say goodbye and who are still at sea, struggling with many difficult situations. Even children who went from house to house to sing Christmas carols often held a small boat in their hands.
Because of the sad moments the ship also symbolizes and due to Western influences, the Christmas tree has become very popular in Greece as well. In some places however, especially on Greek islands, the Christmas ship can still be found. In fact, more and more communities are trying to revive this great custom.