As you can imagine each place in Greece is famous for their own Christmas traditions that make spending the holidays there special and unique. On the island of Zante, Zakynthos as Greeks say, there is no Christmas without the traditional sweet bread called “kouloura.”
Christmas “kouloura” is a sweet ceremonial bread that they make in Zakynthos on Christmas eve. When the “kouloura” is ready the people of each family gather around the table along with important guests they have invited over. According to the tradition, they raise the kouloura over the incense burner with their hands and they sing a hymn. Then, they pour olive oil and wine on the kouloura in a movement that symbolizes the cross. The mixture of wine and olive oil makes the incense smell even stronger. Then the kouloura is cut into pieces and distributed to the people on the table. A lucky person will find the “evrima,” a lucky coin that is supposed to represent Jesus Christ. All these elements on the kouloura symbolize the gifts of the Maggi, while the kouloura symbolizes the star that led them to the manger where Jesus was born.
This special Greek Christmas tradition is another opportunity during the holiday season to gather family and friends around the same table and hope for strength, health, and prosperity.
In case you are interested in making a Christmas kouloura from Zakynthos you can find a recipe here.