Leros is a small Greek island in the Dodecanese in the southern Aegean Sea. We are yacht sitting here for 3 months over the winter.
On this charming island, with a winter population of less than 7,000, businesses still close between 2.00pm and 5.00pm each day and then reopen until 9.00pm, there is little or no trading on a Saturday afternoon or Sunday, because time with family is still important.
Local shop keepers only began hanging decorations this last week because Christmas is still a celebration that centres around family, not an extended commercial opportunity starting 3 months earlier.
This year we will be spending our Christmas in Leros with this lovely island community and ‘community’ is a word that best sums up Leros. We were invited to the lighting of the town Christmas tree last night.
There has been much preparation for the event. The tree has been erected and the nativity scene set.
We have been hearing the children practice their carols in a local church. The final dress and sound rehearsal was yesterday, a beautiful choir that carried across the bay.
Parents, teachers and students have been baking, making jams, crafts, gifts and food for sale to raise money for their schools and sports clubs.
Everyone gathered on the waterfront to set up stalls and to complete final checks on the podium and sound systems for the addresses.
The smell of coals burning signalled we were having souvlaki for dinner, while the ladies stirred mulled wine and prepared hot honey dumplings.
And then it happened, the heavens opened up and the rain came! Hopeful, everyone ran for shelter to wait out what they hoped was a short lived delay.
Men still stoked the coals, optimistically loading their hot grill with sticks of tender meat to have ready for sale to the hungry masses. The nativity scene was lit between showers while ladies still unloaded cars with baked delights wrapped in cellophane and ribbon and glittering christmas trinkets.
But the rain still came.
So what does a tight knit Greek community do when the planned town Christmas festivities have been slightly dampened? They move it inside, these ladies didn’t start baking at 6.00 this morning for nothing!
Over the road everyone poured into the local high school. Out came the trestle tables and the Christmas stalls were set up. While the show cannot go on, the event will not be a complete disaster, money will still be raised, people will eat and the communities and children’s efforts will not be in vain.
As the rain eased, our optimistic men moved their hot coals and delicious meat morsels back to the middle of the road and continued cooking. People huddled with mulled wine and home made mead, holding on to their recently purchased hand crafted christmas trinkets and home made goodies (us included).
So while the children may never have had the opportunity to sing their well practiced carols and the tree still stands in darkness, we felt enlightened by this christmas experience, because good old Greek determination and community spirit still made it a lovely and successful night.
Oh, and they have rescheduled the lighting of the tree to this Wednesday, which means we get to do it all again. Those honey dumplings were to die for!
Merry Christmas to all and safe travels always from The Vagrants Of The World.
This post is one of 24 posts in the #traveladventcalendar2014 series of posts by bloggers around the world sharing festive themed posts. Check out the others via the twitter hashtag.