Christmas time in Greece

Ho ho ho!

Christmas is coming!

New Year is coming!

I thought I’d tell you a bit about Christmas in Greece

The primary tradition that has existed for thousands of years is that of the singing of Kalanda, which is quite similar to Christmas carols in other parts of the world. Kalanda is typically sung by children, as they go from house to house singing a number of carols while playing a plethora of instruments, such as triangles, drums, lyres, and guitars.Sometimes they will also carry model boats decorated with nuts which are painted gold. Carrying a boat is a very old custom in the Greek Islands.

Kalanda’s are also sung on the eve of both New Years and Epiphany.

Unlike many countries around the world, Greece tends to swap gifts on January 1, as opposed to December 25. This day is officially known as St. Basil’s Day. A day which honors Saint Basil the Great

During the twelve days of festivities, many natives in Greece tend to use the decorated bowl with the wooden cross as a means to keep Kalikantzaroi away. This tradition started due to the myth that spread throughout the country thousands of years ago that states that Kalikantzaroi, or goblins, appear only during the 12 days of Christmas, in which they travel through local chimneys and windows, spreading mischief wherever they go. The wooden bowl is customarily filled with water, after which the water is sprinkled in each room of the house in order to safeguard the home from the Killantzaroi. Fires also blaze for the entire 12 days, so as to best keep these creatures from entering the chimney. It is believed that they are finally banished on Epiphany, once the “renewal of waters” takes place.

The natives of Greece prepare for Christmas by fasting for 40 days, after which they dine on a large feast. On Christmas Day dishes prepared for these feasts are typically created using pork, lamb and sometimes stuffed turkey with a variety of appetizers and desserts to round out the meal.Other Christmas and new year foods include ‘Baklava‘ (a sweet pastry made of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey), Kataifi (a pastry made from a special form of shredded filo dough and flavored with nuts and cinnamon).Popular Christmas desserts are also melomakarono, egg or oblong shaped biscuit/cakes made from flour, olive oil, and honey and rolled in chopped walnuts and kourabiedes,Greek butter cookies with almond, covered in powdered sugar.

In Greek Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Kala Christougenna’

Vasilopita, another Greek tradition, is cut by families on New Year’s Day to bless the house and bring good luck for the new year. This is usually done at midnight of New Year’s Eve in Greece. A coin is hidden in the bread by slipping it into the dough before baking. At midnight, the sign of the cross is etched with a knife across the cake. A piece of cake is sliced for each member of the family and any visitors present at the time, by order of age from eldest to youngest. Slices are also cut for various symbolic people or groups, depending on local and family tradition. They may include the Lord, St. Basil and other saints or the poor, the household, etc. The variations of the recipes are countless.

In popular tradition, vasilopita is associated with a legend of Saint Basil. According to one story, St. Basil called on the citizens of Caesarea to raise a ransom payment to stop the siege of the city. Each member of the city gave whatever they had in gold and jewelry. When the ransom was raised, the enemy was so embarrassed by the act of collective giving that he called off the siege without collecting payment. St. Basil was then tasked with returning the unpaid ransom, but had no way to know which items belonged to which family. So he baked all of the jewelry into loaves of bread and distributed the loaves to the city, and by a miracle each citizen received their exact share, as the legend goes.

What other Christmas traditions do you have with your family?

Share the spirit in the comment section!

Limits and children;”Build the ship strong”

How deep is your love?

How strict can you get in order to teach your kids some things?

What is the borderline of happy relationship smiles and kisses?

and being persistent to guide children to behave?

 

It is true that children tend to test our limits and sometimes we  bend the rules we ourselves make.Often, kids just want to see how adults will react. A child who hits his brother might feel relieved when his mother steps in. Or a child who jumps on the couch after you’ve told him to stop might be testing your leadership skills.

Setting limits can be tough for several reasons. Sometimes parents feel guilty about saying no. Or, they want to avoid a temper tantrum that will surely erupt when a child is told it’s time to leave. And of course, partners don’t always agree on what limits to set with kids. When the limits are crossed we are disappointed by their behaviour and don’t know who’s to blame. For example, when I say that it’s time to go, I always leave a period that I know they will stall and keep bring excuses for not getting ready to go. What should be the limit? Is it the same every time?

The eventual goal is for kids to learn to manage all their responsibilities, like homework, chores and taking care of their bodies, without reminders.

Help your child develop strategies that will impose limits on himself. Tell a young child to “beat the timer” when he’s getting dressed in the morning and set a timer for five minutes. Or, tell an older child she can watch TV as soon as she gets all of her homework done.

Limits could also be set with a child’s eating habits. For example, without limits, many kids would eat junk food all day. Setting limits means saying, “No, you can’t have a third cookie”. Just because your child is sad that he can’t eat that third cookie doesn’t mean you should give in. Instead, it gives you a great opportunity to help him find healthy ways to cope with it.

Giving a “penalty” for breaking the rules, shows that you are not going to let things get out of control.And, it shows that you are willing to work to invest energy into your child’s life even if it means having to tolerate hearing “you’re the meanest parent ever.” And to steal a line from my favorite series, talking about parents :“Our job is to build a boat strong enough, that when they decide to, they can get back to us safely.” We need to be firm in order to create a stable boat.

What’s your limits?  When do you real say NO and actually mean it?

Share your ideas in the comment section!

 

 

School has started already, but…we still don’t want to go

It is already October and it’s almost a month that school started. My daughter, age 10 ,does not want to go, has stomaches in the morning and cries in the night.She didn’t have problem in the previous years.What are we going to do this year?

I tried reading an older post I had written about school days http://www.best-parent.com/ready-for-school/, where I explained the use of all possible resources for information about the situation the child is in the school. I went and talked to the teacher, which reassured me that the child does  not have problem in studying amd learning.I then went and talked to her co-students, who told me that she is very adorable but also very sensitive.Still there was no easy task.I explained some things to her and tried to give  her space to see how she reacts without my interference.But the problem still remains.

What am I to do? Her main complaint is that the others don’t take her condition seriously. I even took her to the paediatrician to see if something organic is really there. He noticed only a bit dehydration and lack of appetite.So, he was the one to advice me to seek professional help.And I am going,and I will let you know what will happen next soon….

…………….

So I did go to a specialist. And I told her all these things that I told you. Her proposal was to focus on what the child actually says. It is easy to suppose what the child feels, but the solution will come only if the child himself tells us what the problem is. Of course, it is not easy for a 10 year old to focus on the real problem and what is fantastic, so we have an extra level of difficulty. We must learn to listen and help the child to express himself. This can be done with many ways,such as:

-Role playing

We can switch roles; in the first time the child can play the child and we can be the parent, and then she can play the parent and we will act as the kid

Watching a related-story movie

We can watch together a movie that has a related story,eg a child that is being bullied in the school or is afraid of something, and discuss about the movie and what the hero did to solve his problem

Reading a related novel

Reading can also be fun and helpful, but first it implies that the child wants to read a book and you will play along.

Reading a book about child-anxiety

If the child actually admits that he has anxiety problems you can select a book about anxiety.There are many books, written in simple way so as a child can adapt with its meanings and help him

-Drawing

Drawing our primal fear and then drawing how to defeat it can be also very productive

Cultivate positive thinking

It is easy to fall in the trap of the automated negative thinking; the child may think that everything will go wrong, without any reasonable sign. We could try to propose to him positive answers in his negative thinking and then when the result comes help him realise that “it didn’t go wrong, after all”

This way, the child will be able (with our help maybe) to focus on the real problem. Then  we can help him figure out together a step-by-step solution. It’s like taking up swimming class. If you don’t know how to swim and want to learn,if someone comes up and tell you that the ocean is full of sharks and piranhas, you will probably be discouraged to continue the lessons. All things must be learned, but take one step at a time.

I tried the drawing expression with Maria. She was very to eager to draw what is going on at school;and she made one drawing of the external view of the situtation and another drawing of what this situation looks in her mind. There was a big difference, and I think she herself noticed that. We still have a long road to follow, so I will keep you updated with the news…….

What is you opinion? Do you have any suggestions for me ? Have you tried something that actually worked? Share it in the comment section bellow!

 

8 things you must do after you hit the beach!

So,we got our bathing suits,our sunscreen and headed to the beach

(yes,I haven’t taken my holiday leave yet)

beach
Ready for the beach!

Is it time to relax ?There are just some last  things to consider…

1.Basic necessities;except for sunscreen, be sure to bring

  • – a towel,hats,sunglasses, beach sandals, a sea matress and
  • – maybe an umbrella if the beach doesn’t offer one.
  • – Sand/swim toys for the kids to enjoy their leisure
  • – A bag for wet clothes and bathing suits may also come in handy

2.Beach paddles and flippers,as well as googles or diving masks for those who want to explore the sea

3.Use life vests. Whenever your kids are around the ocean, pool, lake, or another large water source, make sure they’re wearing life vests that fit properly. And be sure not to purchase inflatable vests — they can easily deflate or pop.

4.Stay near your child within an arm’s length and be observant. When your kids are near the water, stay close by and keep an eye out for big waves

5.Teach your child the four golden rules of water safety, too:

  1. Don’t go near the water without an adult
  2. Never dunk another child
  3. Don’t run on the dock or pool deck
  4. Always jump in feet first-protect your neck

6.Watch out for aquatic life – water plants and animals may be dangerous.Teach your child how to recognise a jellyfish, sea urchins or similar in your area.If you end up with a jellyfish sting on your body or your child’s, seek medical attention

7.Try to prefer organised beaches with lifeguard and

8. Remember to keep a small First Aid kit. Remember that kits should also be checked regularly and restocked if any items are damaged or are out of date.

Can you think of anything else to check before we lie down under the sun and relax?

Share your ideas in the comment section!

And of course, don’t forget to have FUN!!

Summer; the sun and the children

Summer is here!

sun
PhotoCredits: Lina Pantazoglou

(well this year summer in Greece is very strange,with rains,fires,heat and cold all in one week), but it is here!

All I can think through the workweek is the weekend and the  scent of salt water in the air and sand between my toes and the children playing around,building sand castles and swimming. However, a parent’s job never ends. From choosing the right sunscreen to choosing the right beach,here are some tips I gathered to help us.

UV rays are what cause the damage and are the ones you need to protect your skin from, with both types being linked to skin cancer. Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are responsible for skin reddening and sunburn. It’s also the main culprit for skin cancer but also causes tanning and premature ageing. UVB rays vary in strength depending on location, the time of day and the time of year.Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays penetrate deeper into your skin and are responsible for tanning. They also cause premature ageing such as wrinkles. UVA rays are normally fairly consistent all year round and at any time of the day

Sun protection factor (SPF) measures the amount of protection you’ll receive from the sun’s UVB rays. Rated on a scale from 2 to 50+ (the higher the number, the stronger the protection), it tells you how much longer your skin will take to turn red in response to UVB compared to if you weren’t using any protection.

It’s a pain to apply and reapply sunscreen but it’s vital if you’re planning on sitting out in the sun. A good rule to follow is one teaspoon per body part that’s exposed to the sun. For example, one teaspoon for the face, one for each arm and leg and so on. Remember, if you don’t apply enough sun cream, your level of protection is reduced.Always apply sunscreen 30 minutes before you’re out in the sun and top up just before. Once in the sun reapply every couple of hours or immediately if you’ve been swimming or sweating – even if your sun cream claims to be water resistant.

Sunscreen for babies and kids

Children under six-months-old should be kept out of direct, strong sunlight altogether by staying in the shade and using a hat and long-sleeved clothing to help keep skin covered.

If your little ones are older than six months, make sure they cover up with suitable clothing, stay out of the sun from 11am to 3pm and wear SPF 30 or higher on exposed skin such as the face, shoulders and neck. There are a whole range of sunscreen for kids for you to consider.

What should I do if my child gets sunburned?

Call the pediatrician if your child is under age 1 or if she’s older than 1 and has blisters, severe pain, lethargy, or a fever higher than 38 degrees. Ibuprofen and cool baths or moist compresses can lessen pain, swelling, and itching. (Never give aspirin to children, as it can cause a rare but serious metabolic disease called Reye’s syndrome.) Keep your child out of the sun until the burn is healed.

Remember

  • When the weather is hot, make sure you and your child drink plenty of cool drinks.
  • Keep an eye on your children’s clothing, hats & sunglasses throughout the day – make sure they continue to wear each item!
  • Watch the shade – remember the moving sun means that you may have to move to keep in the shade.
  • Watch out for signs of heat exhaustion and take immediate action to cool down.
  • Never leave your child alone in a car – at any time.

What else do you think when heading to the sun with your kids?

Share your thoughts in the comments section!

 

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