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Greece

Greece

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Maria Loi, the celebrity Greek chef, says that the country's holiday celebrations begin on Christmas Eve around 7 p.m.

"Families sit around the fireplace and eat a special wheat bread that we make only at Christmas," she says. "Some households also eat pork sausages. It's the only [occasion] Greeks eat pork because the meat is not common in our cuisine."

After attending an early morning holy communion on Christmas Day, Greeks go home for an all-day eating fest, says Loi.

Christmas honey cookies

Christmas honey cookies are part of a typical Greek holiday spread.

Homemade honey cookies with walnuts or almonds come first followed by chicken soup with orzo. A few hours later, it's on to either a roast chicken stuffed with chestnuts or variations of grilled or braised pork dishes. Sides such as sauteed wild greens, finely shredded romaine with scallions and feta cheese and roasted lemon potatoes accompany the entrée.

Dessert is light and could be baked apples with honey and walnuts or Greek yogurt topped with honey. To drink, Loi says Greeks favor red wine.

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