Christmas is upon us, and with it comes a whole host of interesting cultural differences I’ve observed between the US and Greece. Here are the ones I’ve noticed this year:
- Typically in the US you’ll see the stores trot out their Christmas merch right around Thanksgiving, though they won’t get into full swing until Black Friday. But without those Halloween and Thanksgiving buffers, here in Greece you’ll start seeing red and green about mid-October. I remember seeing a pretty sizeable Halloween display at Jumbo, but next to it was the burgeoning Christmas décor, which completely took over on November 1st.
- Greeks have seriously no tolerance for cold. If temperatures dip down below 60 (that’s Fahrenheit), they bust out the winter coats, scarves and hats. I’ve been chastised many-a-time for not bundling up my children enough for the “blustering” cold. You’ll oftentimes see children at the playground dressed like Randy from A Christmas Story. “I can’t put my arms down!”
- Greeks collect for the needy this time of year, but you won’t find the Salvation Army Santas ringing their bells in front of all the stores like you do in the US. Something about those ringing bells always signals Christmas time for me. It’s strange not to hear them.
- Another auditory difference: no 24-hour Christmas music radio stations in Greece. This might actually be a good thing.
- One commonality, though, are copious amounts of Christmas lights along the avenues. Along the main drag downtown you’ll see shooting stars and Christmas tree shapes hanging from all the lamp posts. There are also numerous tree lots, so I’m hoping I can get a real tree next year when we stay in town for Christmas.
- And while it can get cold enough to snow here, it rarely does. So much for that White Christmas!