Athens.- The greatest exodus in past years for the Christmas period began on Thursday. Thousands of excursionists abandoned the big cities, taking advantage of the festive holidays. Most of them are traveling to the provinces and abroad. More than 250,000 Greeks will spend Christmas in European capitals, in tourism destinations and exotic islands.
There will be an increase in movement in the coming days at the country’s airports, as many will pass the festivities abroad and at tourism places domestically.
At Athens’ “Eleftherios Venizelos” International Airport, from December 22-28 there will be more than 300 extra flights and another equal number is estimated to be made during the New Year period.”
However, those who enjoy winter sports and are planning to have a white Christmas in one of the ski centres of Europe and Greece will most probably be disappointed, as the lack of snow is unprecedented for this period.
The Greeks living abroad, being active citizens in their countries while, at the same time, maintaining unbreakable ties with Greece and having Ecumenical horizons of interests, contribute in multiple ways to the efforts aimed at allowing Hellenism to occupy the place it deserves in the new international environment of the 21st century, stressed Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias in his message to the Greeks living abroad on the occasion of the Christmas and New Yearʼs celebrations.
The President also underlined that the Greeks living abroad managed to become assimilated in their new countries in an exemplary fashion and under adverse conditions without forgetting their identity, serving as a bridge of cooperation between different peoples and societies.
Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, the head of the Orthodox Church of Greece, on Friday warned against a tendency toward “secularising” Christmas and losing touch with its central meaning in his message for the holiday.
“We must not allow Christmas to be secularised. Children should not be left in ignorance, unaware of what we are celebrating,” he said, noting that outside influences were seeking to replace the religious aspect and theological dimensions of the holiday.
“The world around us is in turmoil. And many would desire our people to become a ‘dizzy herd’. To not react to the levelling. To accept their role as a consumer unit without spirituality, without Orthodox prospects, without historical continuity, without the ability for self-determination. And for the holidays to be diminished to seasonal opportunities to exchange social greetings and gifts,” he said.
The sanctity of family is underlined in the Christmas message of Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana.
The Archbishop points out that when family, the fundamental nucleus of society that shields human beings and ensures their growth, is disturbed, then individuals become deeply traumatized as personalities and social decadence follows.
Archbishop Anastasios also pointed out that the Church has to highlight the value of the human being and display a special interest in the poor and the misfortunate.
Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodoros II in a Christmas message on Friday said that “peace and harmony is not achieved with agreements, treaties and signatures, but through their consolidation deep in the soul of all of us, through the love which is offered to us by the birth of Christ.”
The Patriarch of Alexandria said he was against every form of violence, poverty and hunger and particularly wars “which not only are not condemned in practice but are justified in the name of freedom.”