So here we are... another year almost over and it has just whizzed by.
When you are lucky enough to live on an island, which seems intent on fooling you as to what time of year it actually is, it becomes confusing to keep track of the seasons. Looking out of the window you could believe it was Spring or even a mild Summers day, okay the giveaway is the milder temperature and the sea is a bit chilly, but nonetheless, we are very lucky to live in such a glorious place.
For me, December is a month filled with celebration and hopefully provides a positive conclusion to the year. In Greece there are a lots of opportunities for celebrating and excuses for a party with plenty of name days throughout this month: St Nicholas on the 6th, Spyridon on the 12th, Eleftherios on the 15th and of course Chritos or Kristina on the 25th.
Although Christmas Day is not such a significant holiday here as it maybe in other parts of the world, it is still a good time for a family gathering with plenty of food, drink and general merriment, enjoying dishes of roast meats, seasonal vegetables and sweet biscuits of melomakarona and kourabiedes; the latter with the generous dusty powder sugar coating are very messy to eat, but extremely delicious! (Before leaving the house or talking with anyone after eating these, you might want to check around the corners of your mouth and the front of your clothes for any giveaway traces of sugar!)
The seasonal winter fruits of tangerines, clementines, mandarins and oranges are hanging on the trees like Christmas baubles and can be bought freshly picked, by the bagful from the roadside... they are particularly fragrant and juicy. Winter vegetables are in abundance at the local markets are the necessary ingredients for a lovely hearty winter soup. Hot, freshly roasted kastana/chestnuts are also on sale at the market places and are lovely to nibble while looking around. At the market stalls long green leeks, bright orange carrots, jars of fruits preserved in syrup, olives stored in old water bottles provide an interesting display, especially along the roadside towards Heraklion airport at Agia Vavara, where I think they grow the most enormous cabbages in the world!
To compliment the winter festivities the Psiloritis Mountains have been sprinkled with snow and although the evening temperatures are cooler but not really cold and I can still manage an evening stroll around the harbour without needing a coat, a cardigan is just perfect to protect against the mild evening chill.
The recent winter sunset and sunrise have been particularly spectacular with stunning displays of light reflected on the sea; a wonderful start and end to each day. As the end of the year approaches we can anticipate the winter blooms of the Narcissus, Anemone and Iris flowers, which are just beautiful.
New year is traditional here for getting new clothes and for eating the special bread containing a lucky coin. So get your glad rags on and see the year out surrounded by your nearest and dearest, celebrate the year that has been, and what is yet to come... best wishes everyone!
Photo credit: Sunset from Agia Galini harbour