Why Greeks Decorate a Boat Instead of a Christmas Tree
The most traditional symbol you will find in Greece during the holidays is a small boat decorated with lights, usually placed in the main square of a town.
To karavaki, or small boat is rooted in the traditions of a country with a symbiotic relationship with the sea. In fact on the many Greek islands the Christmas boats remain the most popular ornament of the holiday season. Different legends explain the tradition of the Christmas Greek boat. One of them is related to Saint Nicholas (Agios Nikolaos), the Patron Saint of Sailors.
This saint is celebrated on December 6, the day when many households start decorating their houses for Christmas. The boats are decorated, in order to honor the saint.It’s also true that Greece is proud os the large amount of sailors, fishermen and intrepid captains the country has, which makes them as a symbol of local identity.
On the islands, the wives, mothers, and daughters of seaman used to spend the cold and dark winter months with their heart and mind at sea.
There, their men were battling the stormy seas during the holiday season. These were months of expectation, hope, and prayer for their safe return.
The joy of seeing the boats coming back, made the women celebrate in relief. The boat is a symbol to honor those brave men coming back home.