Sweets, cakes and puddings go hand in hand, or shall we say belly to belly, with Christmas.
Many areas of Greece have their own particular traditions, the recipes for which get passed down from generation to generation.
Corfu Island is better known for its sweet and spicy savoury sauces, but there are some traditional sweet Christmas flavours in Corfu Island, that the festive season just wouldn’t be the same without.
These delicious warm puffs of deep fried dough are trickled with honey syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon. On the eve of St Spyridon day on December 11th the streets are lit with Christmas spirit and every corner has a pop-up shop serving loukoumades.
Loukoumades are a traditional Greek dessert with roots in deep antiquity, whose present name is borrowed from Arabic via Turkish. A fragment of the poet Callimachus mentions a type of cooked honey-cake:
«ἐν δὲ θεοῖσιν ἐπὶ φλογὶ καιέμεν ὄμπας»
“and to burn on the flame cakes made of meal and honey for the gods.”
There cannot be Christmas without Melomakarona and one is simply never enough. Traditionally each household makes its own and they are always on offer from St. Spyridon’s day onward when you visit a friendly home.
Typical ingredients of the melomakarono are flour or semolina, sugar, orange zest and/or fresh juice, cognac (or similar beverage), cinnamon and olive oil.
During rolling they are often filled with ground walnuts. After baking they are immersed for a few seconds in hot syrup made of honey and sugar dissolved in water. Finally, they are decorated with ground, as well as bigger, pieces of walnut and end up looking like elongated eggs.
There is a joke about these classic snowy Christmas sweets, about a man who lost his job in the bakery because he used to dust them each morning.
Kourabiedes, a type of shortbread with walnuts or almonds, are beautiful as well as incredibly tasty. They are covered in pure white icing sugar and are often stacked in pastry shop windows to look like snowed Christmas trees or mountain tops.
Vasilopita is the Greek New Year’s cake and literally translates as the Pie of Basil. Vasilopita is associated with Saint Basil’s day on January 1 in Greece which is the traditional day people receive gifts. Agios Vassilis is in fact the equivalent of St Nicholas or Santa Claus.
A coin called the ‘flouri’ is randomly placed in the Vasilopita and the one to find it in their slice of pie usually receives a gift and is considered fortunate for the coming year ahead.
Every household, business or establishment will cut a Vasilopita sometime in the first month of the New Year.
On behalf of S&O Villas we would like to wish you all the sweetness life has to offer and a luxury holiday in Corfu too!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year