December 6th Onward: Karavaki – Christmas Boats

December 6th Onward: Karavaki – Christmas Boats


As St Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors and the Greek navy – as well as students, merchants, pawnbrokers, and children – an old custom which originated from the Greek islands is the Karavaki, little boats.

St Nicholas little ship karavakiFrom 6th December (the saint’s feastday) onwards, families decorate small model boats/ships with lights (traditional candles or oil lamp), ribbons and other trinkets. Usually placed in the front entry of the home or main living area, the karavaki stay on display until Epiphany (6th Jan).

To wish the household a prosperous year ahead, coins or gold objects are also placed in the boat’s hull.

Group of children Kalanda holding decorated boatWhen children would go door to door singing carols (kalanda) in the village, they would also carry a decorated boat and people would throw donations or treat into it.

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Traditional drawing of Kalanda carolers with instruments and karavaki



Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network.  You can find the Orthodox Christian Network on Google+.

About author

Chris Vlahonasios

Chris Vlahonasios is a law graduate from Victoria University and Orthodox media writer for TRANSFIGURE Media.