Christmas in Thessaloniki

Christmas has come and gone but a story still needs to be told.

Christmas in Australia is traditionally a large BBQ with as many family members as possible. On the other hand, in Greece Christmas Eve was a special celebration. Nothing felt right as we were used to setting out TimTams and baileys for Santa instead of going out for dinner until Christmas Day.

We all got dressed into our beautifully, fancy clothes and made our way to the trendy Casablanca Restaurant in Thessaloniki.

The old-time restaurant gave the impression that we were in the 1930s with men in tailcoats and dancers roaming throughout the restaurant.

A set menu for the night with 6 different courses plus dessert.

Firstly, I was overwhelmed by the smoke from the cigarettes and cigars. It was so cloudy that at times I couldn’t see. Also, I was worried about the food containing any nuts. (I am severely allergic to nuts so it wouldn’t be good to eat them.) A set menu sounds exciting but when the explanation is in Greek and you’re not completely sure of what everything is, I became a little worried.

Around midnight, I was still alive after asking the chef to make plain pasta and left the dinner and my family to travel to Halkidiki, a seaside town with my older cousin.

I agreed to go mostly because I was desperate for some excitement and I needed to get away from the younger kids.

The drive was about 1 and a half hours to my cousin’s friend’s house. She is a few years older than me so I was expecting something crazy to happen.

We walk into the house, filled with smoke from the fireplace and cigarettes and only guys.

I was very surprised. I am a very awkward 17-year-old girl with no guy friends back home. She, somehow, expected me to just blend in with the guys while I was wearing a silver shirt and heels.

They seemed to be pretty confused as well, thankfully. So, I acted as confident as possible and answered all the questions about Australia as best as I could, in my broken Greek.

As it was 6 am when we finally fell asleep, I wasn’t really part of the conversation for much of the night as my brain couldn’t comprehend and add anything to the conversation. I could tell that they were laughing at me times but I laughed along because I was too tired to figure what they had said.

The next morning, we all drove back to Thessaloniki and stopped at a cafe to have the best bougatsa in Greece, the Thessaloniki Bougatsa.

The different traditions resulted in a loss of the Christmas spirit for me and I was missing the rest of my family a lot more than usual. At least, I have a story out of it.

Check out my YouTube video of travelling through Thessaloniki.

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