Many think that the winter in Corfu is basically empty and silent. Which for the most part this is true. However, during the holidays Corfu Town is a city that is fully lit with many people enjoying each others company and lights for Christmas. It is mostly Greeks and it is only in Corfu Town, but they are able to keep the Town alive during the darkest months of the year. Around Corfu in the villages basically everything is closed but you can find some nice places to eat in some villages that are open for the locals. Believe me if they are open for the locals in the winter then they must be good!
Tourism during Christmas
The tourism during Christmas time compared to the summer is non existent. Basically everything is closed in the villages except for one mini market. However, as you get closer to Corfu Town, you start to see life again. However, more so with Greeks than tourists. There are some hotels/airbnbs open in Corfu Town so you will see some tourists, but not many. Corfu Town during Christmas is a very beautiful place to be. They light the whole town with Christmas lights and it is not too cold. Greeks like to enjoy and since they are now not as busy because we are not in season this is the time.
Is it cold? Does it snow?
Will you be going to the beach and swimming in the water on Christmas day in Corfu?
It is possible!
Yes, Corfu does get cold in the winter. During the day you can expect more or less 10 degrees Celsius, but Corfu is full of humidity and this can make it feel a lot colder. Also, chances are it will be windy and/or raining which will also make it feel colder. So, should you bring layers upon layers of clothes? no. Although, a winter jacket is necessary.
Some days the sun will come out and make it 20 degrees Celsius. On these days it is very possible to go swimming in the sea.
It usually does rain a lot in Corfu so a rain coat would be convenient. Don’t you love how green it is in Corfu? Well, if you’ve come in August you have probably also wondered how, since it is so hot and no rain. Well, one reason is we get a lot of rain in the winter. I think its mostly because of the humidity though. Anytime of the year you can wake up at sunrise and go outside and think it has rained from all the humidity.
Is there snow?
It has snowed before in Corfu, but this is a once in 20 year occurrence and also if it sticks on the ground is very surprising.
Greek and Corfu traditions
There are many traditions in Corfu and Greece during Christmas time some of which are common to the rest of the world and others are very unique. First of all, Christmas Day, December 25th, is a holiday just like most of the world. However, the gift giving is taken place on January 1st, Saint Vasilis’s feast day. January 1st is the day we celebrate gift giving and they are from Saint Vasilis.
There are 3 days during the Christmas period in Greece that we sing Christmas Carols. The first is December 24th. Children will walk around all day, going doorstep to doorstep saying “na ta poume, na ta poume”, meaning “should we say them”. When the people say yes, the children will sing the song specific to that day. At the end, they will usually be given money (1 or 2 euros). The other 2 days are on New Year’s eve and the eve of epiphany.
Pomegranates are a symbol of Christmas
Have you ever noticed that pomegranates look like Christmas ornaments? me neither until now. In Greece we have a weird tradition. Years ago not so much now, they would hang up pomegranates on the door on Christmas. At this time the pomegranate is very ripe and will open with just about any touch. On New years day though, on the way back home from church the family would take the pomegranate and smash it. It is a sign of good luck, prosperity, and health for the new year.
Greece being a very “sea” country having so many islands and nice weather, Greece obviously is a big sailing country. For this reason, the Christmas tree in Greece is something relatively knew and it used to be portrayed with a “Karavaki” a small boat. Children will walk around with small wooden boats while singing the Christmas carols. They will draw pictures of boats. Also, they would light up the boats instead of the Christmas tree! The tradition to light up the tree just became more popular in the 1950s-60s.
Just like every other holiday there are specific meals we eat during the Christmas holidays. On Christmas day this meal is Avgolemono. Avgolemono is a soup with eggs, lemon, rice, and chicken/turkey. Another common meal is lamp/pork with roasted potatoes.
We also have some traditonal sweets that we eat during this time of the year. My favorite sweet not only have the Christmas sweets but overall is Melomakarouna. A soft honey cookie.
The other popular sweet for Christmas in Greece is Kourabiedes. These are short bread cookies with nuts and raisins.
Food is undoubtedly a significant part of the Greeks life and during holidays it is even more. However, Greeks like to eat together. So during this holidays families will do large gatherings and eat all together.
So yes many people calm to Corfu for the hot sun, beautiful beaches and nature, and amazing food. In the winter, some of these are a little hard to find, but the sun does calm out and when it does it is usually the perfect sweater weather scenario. The food is still amazing in the winter maybe even more so because the tourist places have closed and only the places where the locals go stay open. You can be sure you will get a local exsperience coming to Corfu in the winter. Driving around exploring the island will be ideal because you will have the roads mostly all to yourself and the nature will never seem more natural.