Christopsomo: The Sacred Bread of Christmas in Greek Tradition

 Christopsomo, known as Χριστόψωμο in Greek, is a traditional bread crafted by Greek housewives in the days leading up to Christmas. Its name translates to "the bread of Christ." While Greeks include bread in their daily diet, Christopsomo holds a special place as the sole bread consumed during this significant Christmas occasion. It symbolizes the profound spiritual significance embodied by the newborn Christ.

Despite being prepared like ordinary bread, Christopsomo stands apart due to the meticulous selection of top-quality ingredients by the Greek bakers. Another notable distinction from their everyday bread is its typically round shape, adorned with a dough cross or seal on the upper surface and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. In many regions, shelled walnuts are also added to enhance its flavor and texture.

To create Christopsomo, you'll need the following ingredients: flour, fresh yeast, sugar, eggs, sesame seeds, butter, anise, and a whole nut.

On Christmas Day, the head of the household takes the Christopsomo and, in a symbolic gesture, "crucifies" it with a knife before cutting it and sharing it with the entire family and any guests gathered around the Christmas table. Many view this act as a connection to Holy Communion, as Christopsomo is distributed in a manner reminiscent of how Christ offered the bread of life to all of humanity.

Christopsomo holds a sacred status as the primary bread of Christmas and is considered blessed, believed to sustain the lives of the household and their family. The process of kneading Greek Christmas bread is seen by many as a divine task and stands as a cherished Christian tradition in Greece.

Christopsomo (Greek Christmas Bread)

Christopsomo – Ingredients

  • 500 g of soft flour
  • 25 g of fresh yeast
  • 2 tbsp. of sugar
  • 1 tbsp. of sesame
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tbsp. anise
  • 375 ml of water
  • 1 whole nut

Christopsomo – How to Make

  1. Start this traditional Greek Christmas bread recipe by preheating the oven to 180°C.
  2. Take a bowl and dissolve the yeast and sugar in 120 ml of lukewarm water.
  3. Add 125 grams of flour and make a thin dough.
  4. Cover the bowl with a towel and leave it in a warm place. Allow the dough to rise for about 15 minutes.
  5. Boil the anise in 200 grams of water, drain it, and allow it to become lukewarm.
  6. Add to the puffed dough the rest of the flour, butter, egg, anise, and the rest of the water. 
  7. Knead until our dough becomes soft and elastic.
  8. Grease a 22 cm baking pan and place the dough, leaving a little aside of the dough for the decoration of the Christopsomo.
  9. From the remaining dough,  make two strips and place them on each piece of bread in the shape of a cross, but also the other designs that everyone wants in the four quarters of the cross.
  10. Place a whole walnut in the center of Christmas bread and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  11. Cover the pan with a towel and leave it in a warm place until the volume of the bread dough doubles in volume.
  12. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour. Once Christopsomo turns a bit brown (after about 30 minutes), cover the pan with foil, so that it does not turn too brown, and continue baking.
  13. Remove from oven when ready. 
In every tenderly kneaded loaf of Christopsomo, we find a reflection of the deep-rooted traditions and heartfelt devotion that make Christmas in Greece truly special. Beyond its delightful taste and artisanal craftsmanship, christopsomo carries the profound symbolism of Christ's birth and the bonds of family and faith.

As the head of the household "crucifies" the bread with a knife and shares it among loved ones, the spirit of Holy Communion fills the room, reminding us of the selfless love that Christmas represents. Christopsomo is not merely sustenance for the body; it nourishes the soul, fostering a sense of unity, blessing, and hope.

So, as you savor the unique flavors of Christopsomo during this festive season, may you also savor the rich tapestry of tradition, spirituality, and love that it embodies. In each slice, we discover the enduring power of faith and the warmth of family, making Christopsomo not just a piece of bread but a cherished symbol of Christmas in Greece. May Christopsomo bless you and your family. Don't forget that New Year is just around the corner and you need to make your vasilopita! Merry Christmas to all.