Christmas, Symi Style

A most unusual sight - Pachos' historic kafeneion is closed.  It is in the process of being redecorated along with the rest of the building so it is closed for business at the moment.

The municipal Christmas decorations are going up around the harbour. Dainty trees and ropes of lights around the iconic anchors.  

Waiting for the Blue Star Diagoras to come in on a damp grey December morning.

The big gyros bar in the old Ionian Bank building is shrouded in plastic drop cloths and has Christmas decorations hanging in the plastic windows.  Anyone wanting to trade through the winter has no choice but to put up these plastic tents as the premises themselves are tiny with little or no indoor seating.  In a place this steep level surfaces are at a premium and buildings have minimal floor space so businesses rent pavement space from the town hall to provide seating for their customers.

One of the old ships' anchors that used to be at the clock tower, decorated with light ropes for Christmas.

The newsagents, putting on a festive show.  In the summer this is where one goes for foreign press.  In the winter they only stock Greek newspapers and magazines.

I am not sure if Santa belongs to the supermarket or if he is shared with the shoe shop next door.  Santa Claus/Father Christmas is Agios Vassilis in Greece. Agios Vassilis is Saint Basil and his feast day is 1 January, when he is supposed to bring gifts and blessings. Tomorrow, 6 December, is the feast day for St Nicholas, when all those called Nikos and Nikolaos celebrate their name day.  He is the patron saint of seafarers and very important to island dwellers such as the Symiots.

The organic and traditional food shop in the back lanes is one of the few to actually have shop windows in which to display decorations and they have made the most of the opportunity.

The Stani cake shop next to our office is also prettily decorated.  This shop has wonderful high ceilings and very elegant proportions.

Meanwhile in the Pedi valley, Nature is putting up her own decorations, painting the terraces bright green with succulent new grass. The lambing season has started and it looks as though the grazing will be good this winter.

The lemon trees are starting to flower.  The scent is wonderful.  The trees themselves have not really recovered from the long summer drought so the leaves are a bit tatty.

Small surprises hide in the new grass - some monkshoods on an embankment in Lieni.

It is a calm grey day with occasional shafts of sunlight breaking through the cloud cover.  There was very heavy dew last night and everything was dripping this morning.  As there is a low pressure system combined with the full moon, the water level in the harbour is very high and water is starting to slosh through the drains in the street.  It hasn't seriously started flooding yet but the critical point is only a matter of a few centimetres now.  Waves are lapping up beyond the top edge of the slipway at the customs house and under the arches of the bridge so motorists are trying to avoid driving through the salty water. The rain forecast for yesterday passed to the south of us but more is on the agenda for tomorrow and the subsequent days.

As you can see from the photographs, Christmas decorations are starting to go up around the harbour. The effect is very much one of Christmas in Toytown and very pretty, with all the charm of the miniature.  Up in the residential areas like Chorio there are some wilder flights of fancy.  As the houses are small some householders go in for fancy lights around their rooftops and on the balconies as there isn't space to put up a tree indoors.  I will try to take some photographs of any that catch my eye and post them for you.

Have a good weekend - and remember, there are still places like Symi where Christmas starts in December instead of September and is not a commercial frenzy so there is hope for humanity yet!


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About this Blog

I sailed into Panormitis Bay, Symi, by chance one windy July day in 1993 and have been here ever since. The locals tell me that this is one of the miracles of St Michael of Panormitis. A BA graduate with majors in English, Philosophy and Classical Civilisation, the idea of living in what is to all intents and purposes an archaeological site appeals to me. Not as small as Kastellorizo, not as touristy as Rhodes, Symi is just the right size. I live on a small holding which my husband and I have reclaimed from a ruin of over-grazing and neglect and turned into a small oasis over the course of the past 22 years. I also work part-time for Symi Visitor Accommodation, helping independent travellers discover and enjoy Symi's simple pleasures for themselves.

This page is kindly sponsored by Wendy Wilcox, Symi Visitor Accommodation.

Adriana Shum

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