Under the Star of Bethlehem

Fly away from your routine of snowdrifts (or puddles), from minus on the thermometer (or zero), from snowy (or bare) trees to December on Crete, where the dried over the summer grass is being saturated with moisture and turns green again. Orange and tangerine groves are lighting like red lanterns. You can’t believe it—roses bloom! The average temperature is about plus 17° C, and water in sea is about the same, so bathe only Cretan winter swimmers and brave tourists. But you will not get tired of admiring the sea surface excited by wind, breathing its salty-fresh air, even in the rain (just about 8-9 days a month), when the sky and the sea are the same color… By the way, it’s quite easy to escape from the rain on Crete: sometimes it’s worth getting to the nearest bend to find yourself under a clear sky. Rain clouds do not last long over the island.

Christmas decorations add more color to Crete in December. Already in November, every village in the mountains begins to preen: in December, Christmas trees and boats are installed, and garlands are hung, so the evening is shining with reflected lights like the sea waves it do in December on Crete.

Preparing for the holidays is everywhere, first of all for Christmas, of course. But there are others celebrations: in Agios Nikolaos, for example, on December 6, they celebrate their heavenly patron Saint Nicholas with a festival in his honor.

The palette of pre-Christmas and Christmas experiences is inexhaustible. Would you like to become Santa Claus for a day and take part in the Santa Run? Then go to Chania, but to see the underwater version of Santa Claus’ arrival in a sleigh drawn by seahorses, go—to Gouves, near Heraklion, to the Cretan Aquarium.

You can get the feeling of the Christmas night miracle in the cave of St. John the Hermit in the village of Marathokefala. For a very long time many people and priests gather here to celebrate the main event of the holy night—the birth of Christ—and for the Divine Liturgy. How the hymns sound in the darkness of the cave and the candles flare at once at the end of the service, announcing the birth of Christ, you cannot tell, you can only see and feel… The infinity of the sky outside will be dark blue; and the Star of Bethlehem will shine above you like thousands years ago.