Athens tours, Athens tours by locals
Usually it is argued that Carols date back to the Byzantine era. But there are also folklorists who find their origin in ancient Athens, where a similar custom prevailed. During the celebrations of Pyanepsion and Thargilion, where sacrifices were offered to the god Sun, children used to wander in the streets of Athens. The requirement to participate in this celebration was that both parents were in life. Outside every house children said several songs that were composed especially for the occasion while hanging on the door of the house an olive branch with some green fruit.
Children, like in modern carols, were paid by the landlord of the house. This custom and the song were called by the Athenians Iresioni. Many believe that from this Athenian festive event originates a similar custom of the Romans (calendae) which was transferred, retaining its name, in Byzantium. Moreover, in many Greek regions the month of January was also called calendar, because of the Byzantine Calendi that were sung on the eve of St. Basil.
However, carols or Calendi, as they were called in Byzantium, in Constantinoupolis, were not just songs. It was a glamorous celebration. Young and older were divided into groups and were going around houses and sang songs of praise or satirical ones about the house’s landlord, receiving the appropriate tip. It seems though that the custom did not enjoy the approval of the official Church and many Patriarchs forbade the believers. The Byzantine chronicler John Tzetzes, who lived in the 12th century, called those who sang carols tramps! From Constantinoupolis they came to the rest of Greece, where they spread through the country and acquired various local variations. The linguistic expression followed the evolution of the Greek language.