24 July 2024

Christmas in Kalamata and the “Karavaki”


The central square, Vasilisis Georgiou, becomes a festive hub, hosting rows of little colorful wooden stores where handcrafted ornaments, jewelry, and candles beckon shoppers in search of unique Christmas presents, tree houses provide activity time for kids, and a magnificent carousel awaits you. The crowning moment arrives with the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas tree by the Mayor of the City, Mr Athanasios Vasilopoulos, accompanied by an array of celebrations and performances, and the ever active, Kalamata Philharmonic Orchestra.

Kalamata, being a seaport, also proudly illuminates its harbor in a captivating display of lights thereby payinghomage to its maritime roots by reviving a truly Greek tradition – the decorative lighting of a boat in its harbor. Locals refer to it as “Karavaki” which translates into “little boat,” This tradition harks back to ancient seafaring days when Greek men, predominantly sailors, embarked on lengthy journeys for fishing and trade. Families, anticipating the return of their loved ones, would decorate small wooden ships, as part of the homecoming celebrations. This maritime tradition was gradually integrated into the Christmas season, and for many years, prior to the establishment of the traditional Christmas tree as the main Christmas display in Greece, Greek families would decorate little wooden ships during the holiday season. Often times the decorative lights would be blue and white, the colors of the Greek flag, instead of the popular red and green associated with Christmas. 

A variety of music concerts, Christmas theatres for adults and children, and dance shows create a symphony of holiday cheer that reverberates throughout the city. In every corner of the city, from the lively central square to the historic harbor, the air is filled with the fragrance of joy,the sounds of music, the glow of lights, the smells of oranges, cinnamon, and cloves, and the echoes of tradition, making Kalamata a destination where Christmas is not just celebrated, but experienced in all its enchanting glory.

Click on the schedule of celebrations here

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