THE STORY BEHIND THE XMAS GREEK BOAT
The “karavaki” or boat was particularly popular in Greek island homes or villages by the sea ever since the late 1800s. According to some experts, the boat was carried around by children singing Christmas carols on the Greek islands as a wish for a good year for their sailor relatives.
Before the tree and the boat, Greeks decorated the “Christoxylo” which means the “wood of Christ” and was either from a pear or wild cherry tree. It was also known as the “Dodekameritis” as it symbolized the 12 days of Christmas – “dodeka” meaning 12 and “meres” days. The wood was thorny because it was meant to ward off the “Kalikantzarous”, a group of trolls that made their way out of the inner depths of the earth once a year during Christmas to wreak havoc.
However, it is during these 12 days that the earth is saved because the kallikantzaroi, eager to get their hands on the Greek sweets and to make mischief, stop chopping the trunk that holds the earth. By the time Christmas and New Year’s are over and they get back to chopping, the trunk has grown again.
Many believe that the “karavaki” tradition did not endure due to the sadness and melancholy memories it evoked of separation and loved ones leaving for sea.