This is a preview of the content in our Greek Food Decoder app. Get the app to:
  • Read offline
  • Remove ads
  • Access all content
  • Build a list of your own favourites
  • Search the contents with full-text search functionality
  • ... and more!
iOS App Store Google Play

kouloura

κουλούρα

kouloura

The traditional cake/bread, served on Zakynthos on Christmas Eve, made with 15 ingredients including olive oil, red wine, raisins, pine nuts and walnuts, cinnamon, clove and anise, orange juice and zest—with an ηύρεμα, (évrema or ‘finding’)—a gold or silver coin—baked inside. It symbolizes the Star of Bethlehem.

At dinner—where the traditional meal is boiled broccoli (fasting before taking communion on Christmas morning), the still warm koulo€θra is placed in the centre of the table on a large platter. The oldest man in the family takes the platter; everyone in the family grips an edge, and together they pass it over the fireplace (where the logs are laid in the shape of a cross, symbolizing Adam and Eve in hell), singing hymns. They cross it three times, then pour olive oil and red wine on top; this symbolizes the gifts of the Magi and the redemption of Adam and Eve.

Back at the table, the oldest member of the family slices it. The first piece is for baby Jesus, but the rest is passed around, and whoever finds the coin in their slice will have good luck. Someone will go outside with their rifle and take a shot in the air, shouting για τον Ηρώδη! ‘for Herod!’

Desserts, pastries and sweets

Ionian Islands

Text © Dana Facaros

Image by Zante today