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Christmas in Athens page 2

Children wander around Athens singing the "Agios Vassilis is coming" song, collecting money. Unlike Santa, Agios Vassilis, or Saint Basil, comes on New years day with gifts from Caesaera in Asia Minor instead of the North Pole. Traditionally New Years eve is spent playing cards with close friends but lately New Years in Athens has become as festive as Times Square in New York City.

Epiphany is on January 6th. In various harbors they throw a cross into the sea and boys dive for it. You can watch it on TV where they show the ceremony from many different harbors, rivers and lakes around the country or you can go down to the harbor and see it in person.

There are few places more quiet and beautiful as the First Cemetary in Athens near the old Olympic Stadium. If you know your modern Greek history you will be surprised at the number of famous people buried here including some of the most popular singers and performers.

To put the winter weather in a fruit-perspective, winter is orange season in Greece and these are growing in Agia Irini Square on Aeolis street.

A street vender sells souvlaki on the streets of Psiri during the Sunday flea market in Monastiraki. The flea-market has gotten so big that it spreads into Thission and across Ermou into Psiri. Sunday is a great day to be in Athens, especially if you collect antiques.

Athens is full of Antique shops like the one owned by Apostolis Soffilides on Pittaki street in Psiri.

Johnny Vavoura and Andreas rock out at Mike's Irish Pub in the Athens Tower of Ambelokipi weekly during the winter. Vavoura has been playing American and British Rock and Roll in Athens since the early seventies. There is a thriving rock/jazz/blues scene in Athens and many big name and lesser known bands visit from the UK and USA to play concerts and clubs like Rodon, An and the Blue Note. There is also a big technomusic scene and lots of dance clubs in and around Psiri and Gazi.

In the winter big Greek stars like Haris Alexiou, Giorgos Dalaras, Papaconstantinou, Babis Tsertsos and many others leave the concert tours behind and settle down to play in the clubs, some for the entire season. There are also musical events like ballet and symphonies at the big concert halls. There are several hundred movie theaters most of which show first run English language films.

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