The Greek Orthodox Church is celebrating Christmas on the 25th December, on the same date as the Catholic and Protestant Churches.
That Greek date for Christmas was picked because on the same day in the Mediterranean area they used to celebrate a Persian god, Mithras, who was the god of the Sun. And, because the difference between light and darkness is such an important aspect of the December month, all our Greek traditions and customs are still based on that contrast of darkness and light.
Christmas tends to be a quiet, solemn, season. In some areas, the holiday is preceded by a time of fasting.
For Crete, Greece, the season is in full swing by December 6th, the Feast of St. Nicholas when presents are exchanged, and will last through January 6th, the Feast of Epiphany. Nicholas (and every Greek Nikos) have their so called name day on 6th December.
Melomakarono is absolutely the ultimate Greek Christmas tradition.
For Greeks around the world, melomakarono are synonymous with Christmas!
These small honey and cinnamon cookies are a special, sticky treat, and their amazing aroma and gooey centres are sure to delight adults and children alike! Bakeries across Crete, Greece will display trays piled high with these festive delicacies throughout the winter months, so why not have a go at making your own and add a little ‘Greek’ to your Christmas celebrations!
Live and savour these Christmas as a true Greek, with melomakarono at your Christmas table and don’t forget to share your results with us at @minosbeach
- For the cookies :
3 cups flour
1 cup semolina
1 tsp baking soda
zest of 1 orange
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
5 cups olive oil
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup brandy
- For the syrup:
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 cups honey
1 stick cinnamon
4 whole cloves
- For the garnish :
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F /Gas 4). In a bowl, combine the flour, semolina, baking soda, orange zest, cinnamon and ground cloves. In a separate bowl, combine the oil, sugar, orange juice and brandy. Incorporate the wet mixture into the flour mixture, and knead lightly for 5 minutes. Roll out ovals of dough (roughly 8cm (3 inches) thick and 3cm high) and place them onto a greased baking tray. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until light brown.
To make the syrup, put the water, sugar, honey, cinnamon stick and cloves in a saucepan and boil for five minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Drizzle syrup over the cookies and garnish with chopped walnuts and cinnamon. Covered with plastic wrap or store them in tins, melomakarono will last for up to 1 week…if you don’t eat them all first!
Kali orexi & Kala Xristougenna!