ATHENS – Over time, the trappings of Western Christmas have made the cities of Greece – especially Athens – somewhat familiar places to expats and visitors from America this time of year, but nostalgia for “the old county” is very powerful around the holidays, so several events over the past week, though not all about Christmas, served to “make the sprits bight” for some, like the famous song says.
The Anglican Church of St. Paul in Athens Centre presented a wonderful and homey – there was cake and mulled wine – Christmas Carol singalong led by Rev. Canon Leonard Doolan and accompanied on its genuine pipe organ (the oldest in Greece) by Christina Antoniadou. The evening of December 23 features a singalong Handel’s Messiah.
Athens – like New York, ironically – can have a small town feel in the sense that you never know when you will bump into friends or relatives. Sometimes, it’s a musical experience.
New Yorkers walking through the Thision district on December 19 heard some familiar sounds as they walked past the wonderful subterranean Kellari Athenaeum restaurant – if they had gone in they would have been greeted and grabbed by the jazz stylings of the passionate and gifted vibraphonist Christos Rafalides and bass player Panagiotis Andreou.
The most Christmassy spot in Attiki, however, may be the grounds of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center. A triple-tree ensemble, lights on all the trees lining the canal AND an ice skating rink help Athenians – and many are there day and night through the winter – celebrate the season.