Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

Greeks prepare for frugal Christmas meal, wish for better days

24 Dec 2017, 16:51 ( 10 Months ago) | updated: 24 Dec 2017, 16:58 ( 10 Months ago)

DF-Xinhua Report
A Christmas tree is seen during the lighting up ceremony on Syntagma Square in Athens, Greece. File Photo Xinhua.

In the final stretch to Christmas, Athens' central market was fully packed this week as Greek consumers made the final minute purchases for Monday's traditional festive meal. Eight years after the start of the debt crisis it will be frugal once again, according to surveys.

Recession-hit Greeks who talked to Xinhua admitted that they may be conservative in spending, but remain generous in conveying warm wishes for a better future for Greece and the entire world.

A typical Christmas lunch will cost Greek households 1.29 percent less this year compared to 2016, according to a price survey conducted by the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE).

For a meal for 6-8 persons including a main course with turkey, pork or lamb, salads, soft drinks and wine, as well as traditional desserts such as melomakarona (biscuits made with honey and nuts), Greeks will spend on average 149 euros (176.7 US dollars) this year down from 151 euros last year.

The marginal drop does not make substantial difference to the pockets of people still suffering from unemployment, salary and pension cuts and uncertainty about the future.

Although the ailing economy is on the mend in recent months and Greece is due to exit the bailouts next year, the average Greek household has still not tasted the fruits of growth, therefore the lavish festive meal will remain a memory of past pro-crisis years.

"Some will eat caviar, others chicken costing two euros per kilo or pork. For the time being this is the best seller. Let's hope that this year will be the last one Greek people are suffering what they are suffering, because the truth is over the past five years people literally starved," Kleanthis Tsironis, President of Varvakeios market in the centre of Athens, told Xinhua.

"The prices have dropped as low as possible, but we have to also consider Greek producers. These people are working day and night out in the cold and they should be earning enough to cover their operational costs," he added.

Kostas Zerbinos, a pensioner, was one of the consumers rushing to buy the necessary ingredients for the family meal.

"We have been conservative in spending in the past 6-7 years, so it will be the same this year. We have reached the bottom. What can we do? We are doing whatever we can. I am buying chicken from Litsa. I will cook it with stuffing. It will be delicious," he told Xinhua.

Vivi T. left aside many things she intended to buy when she arrived at Varvakeios, as she has left aside invitations to cousins, colleagues and neighbors.  

"In the past we invited people, relatives, friends to join us. We can't do it now. I wanted to buy plums and dates which I would buy every year and I did not add them to my basket this time. Hazels now cost 16 euros per kilo. I did not buy any. I bought the cheapest goods so that we feel that we did something different these days, nothing more," she said.

"We can't make ends meet after so many cuts on salaries and pensions. With more cuts expected we can't spend much and say that this time we will buy something better. We don't know what happens tomorrow," she added, before wishing Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. 


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