Athens.- As all of Greece entered the holiday mood for Christmas, groups of children throughout the country were going door-to-door on Friday morning, singing Christmas carols to bring good luck and wishes to households, and be treated with traditional holiday sweets and coins. President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, Prime minister Costas Karamanlis and the political party leaders, at their respective headquarters, were popular recipients of the caroling tradition.
Another tradition is visits by political leaders to orphanages, retirement homes and hospitals, and the premier, with his wife Natassa, visited the Mitera foster home institution, where they gave out gifts, chatted with the children, and heard carols.
At the presidential mansion, societies from all areas of Greece performed the traditional holiday dances and songs of each region of Greece, including the children’s choir of the General Secretariat for Overseas Greeks that sang Christmas carols in English.
The first carolers to call on Karamanlis at the government headquarters at Maximos Mansion were the Greek Police children’s choir, followed by a children’s dance group which performed traditional Greek folk dances from Macedonia.
More carols were sung to the prime minister by children from the ERT (national Radio/Television foundation) choir.
The prime minister presented gifts to the children.
Later, Karamanlis and his wife went to the Mitera institution, where they joined the children there at a small Christmas party.
The prime ministerial couple presented sweets and chocolates to the children, as well as gifts of toy musical instruments, picked out by Mrs. Karamanlis, so that the children could set up their own musical chamber.
The couple was accompanied by health minister Nikitas Kaklamanis and deputy minister George Constantopoulos.
Carollers also called on the head of main opposition PASOK George Papandreou, who handed out small gifts, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga, newly-elected Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology leader Alekos Alavanos and the honorary president of ruling New Democracy, former premier Constantine Mitsotakis.
Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, head of the Greek Orthodox Church, received carollers from the Arsakeio Lyceum and the police force childrens’ choir.