Holidays in Greece are celebrated with family and friends around tables laden with the foods of the season, but there's a big difference between a "holiday meal" and a "holiday table." A holiday meal will generally include traditional foods associated with the holiday, but the holiday table uses those traditions as a base and builds... and builds. The holiday table has certain traditions that pass from generation to generation.
In Greek, a γιορτινό τραπέζι (holiday or celebration table, say: yeeor-tee-NO trah-PEH-zee) is usually planned at Christmas, New Year's, Easter, name days (which are celebrated with much more fanfare than birthdays for adults and children alike), other holidays, and special occasions.
Each holiday has its traditions.
The traditional meat at Christmas is pork or stuffed turkey or chicken with stuffing that includes ground meat.
And there is a selection of fabulous traditional sweets during the Christmas and New Year season as well.
Easter, which is the biggest holiday in the lives of Greek Orthodox, the meat is lamb, and traditional recipes abound!
The holiday table, whenever planned, involves a pretty standard format that incorporates the traditional dishes of the day:
- several salads, appetizers, and dips
- 2 - 3 main dishes featuring different meats cooked in different ways
- 2 - 3 hot side dishes
- cheeses (feta and others), olives
- sweets, coffee, spirits
Whether you plan a traditional Greek holiday table for Christmas, Easter, or other holiday or special occasion, remember to check your recipes to see what can be made ahead of time, and do some advance planning. This article about keeping the stress down at Easter applies to any holiday table.
Sample Holiday Menus