A Family Christmas on Crete
December 1, 2023 - January 7, 2024
I think there must be something wrong with me Linus. Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel.
– Charlie Brown
Have you experienced over the past few years enough nostalgic whiplash in December to put your Christmas memories into a neck-brace? Have you wondered what happened to the holiday of your childhood, where instead of needing computers and cars and a head-start on Halloween, you could walk on Christmas Eve through a friendly, brightly lit downtown, shop in actual shops, meet actual people you knew, and finish with enough time to step home through snow, wrap presents with your family, and sip cocoa while Jimmy Stuart helped Clarence get his wings?
Has it occurred to you that time may have replaced the “Christ” in Christmas with ‘crass;’ that despite George Bailey’s best efforts Bedford Falls became Pottersville; and that—worst of all—neither your children (nor grandchildren) notice the difference, because they never experienced what’s been lost?
If any of those thoughts crossed your heart this past year during the five minutes it took your Amazon page to re-load or the hour it took the Black Friday traffic to decongest and let you park within three miles of the distant doors of your regional mall, it might be time to go back in Time, and to bring those you love with you, so that you can enjoy and they can experience a Christmas in purer form, floating down and distilled from all its modern noise into the cardinal cares of family, faith and joy.
And while there are no such things as time-machines, there are places on our planet that did not bite the apple of progress and instead chose to remain behind, where they now enjoy a renaissance resulting from living life at human scale. And one of those places is Crete.
This offer is not a set program. Instead, it is a simple invitation to share with us your Christmas traditions so we can craft for you a holiday experience on Crete, where you might gather those you love far from the modern, western-civilization version of in-Santa-ty, and be together in a place where the spirit of the holiday remains strong.
If this basic idea appeals to your sense of holiday, faith and family, simply contact us. After sharing with us your best Christmas desires and traditions, we’ll help you craft a flexible itinerary to hit each of those notes on the holiday harpsichord.
You’ll stay at Villa Koukouvayia Farms, an intimate lodging overlooking the olive groves and Aegean Gulf of Kissamos, a place known for letting even the farthest family of travelers feel immediately at home. Whether you bring only a close friend or partner, or gather a group of children and grandchildren counting to 25, we’ll have the space to accommodate you all, to provide the privacy that lets smaller family-groups join each other happily for a long stay, and to fit a 3-meter Christmas tree in the Main House’s living room, where it will shine, along with the gifts beneath, in the glow of a roaring fireplace.
In front of that stone hearth and fire you might spend the majority of your time—reading together, playing games, sharing conversation and even watching classic Christmas movies. And whether you are a small or large group, Villa Koukouvayia has the kitchen facilities (and the local grocers and butchers have the fresh goods!) to bake the holiday meals whose preparation and enjoyment often form the heart of a family’s Christmas sharing and tradition.
But when you do step beyond Villa Koukouvayia’s gate, the people of the nearby villages and towns—at common ease now that olives are harvested and tourists have left—will welcome you and your family into their bakeries and cafés, and will seat you happily in front of the warm fireplaces of their farm-to-fork restaurants.
And from a long list of other activities that might enrich your holiday experience on Crete, we can help you shape a customized itinerary to complete your holidays together. Among options our family has found particularly special are:
- Christmas Eve shopping and dinner in the Venetian/Ottoman Old Town of Xania. Xania is an amazing city full of history, with a vibrant, pedestrianized shopping and residential district filled with restaurants and the kind of tiny, owner-run shops that offer unique handmade and affordable gifts. On Christmas Eve there will be the bustle of the holiday, with the Venetian lighthouse and the masts of sailing yachts in the harbor alit; shops putting braziers outside to grill meats; vendors offering roasted-chestnut or fresh pop-corn; children picking a favorite balloon from the gypsy toy sellers (and then losing it in tears to the starry skies); and restaurants with heated outdoor dining areas and often live music. The town is only a ½ hour from Villa It’s easy to spend the afternoon and evening there and be home to wrap presents and enjoy the quiet of late Christmas Eve together before being abed (and putting the kids abed) in time for St. Nick to fill the stockings.
- Hikes along one of the many trails that lead out from or are close by Villa Koukouvayia, and along some of the many nearby gorges.
- An excursion up to the snow-covered White Mountains that surround the Omalos Plateau.
- A visit to Balos or Elafonisi Lagoons, or the pink sands of Phalasarna Beach. Without the tourists, you can experience these wonderful sites in their natural state and splendor.
- Dining out at any of the local farm-to-table tavernas, the best of which stay open all year and always with a roaring fire and an unhurried hospitality.
- An excursion to the southern coast, either to the historically independent Sfakia Region, or the final mountain town of Anopoli, where the road ends in the face of the towering White Mountain massif. Here too, the taverns that serve the shepherds and local farmers remain open and will joyously feed your family too.
But to be honest, our family’s most enjoyable tradition has been helping friends, cousins and new friends like you enjoy their traditions (and build new ones) on this special island, in this special region. And we look forward to letting you enjoy similar experiences—putting light into your winter holidays, so important during this season of the year.
Length of Stay: Up to you! Depends on the size of your group and the number of activities you want to include for them. A good estimate would be between 1 to 2 weeks.
Lodging Venue: Villa Koukouvayia Farms, Kaloudiana Crete.
Payment Currency: $USD$ or €Euro€
Let’s connect to customize a Christmas itinerary for you!