Things to Do in Crete – Cretan Customs & Celebrations

In Crete, every moment of the year is important, special and celebrated in a unique way.

When traveling to Greece you will notice that every event can turn into a big or small celebration, even farming or livestock jobs such as harvesting and sheep shearing.  Every custom is performed in a particular way and celebrated according to the season and the circumstances. Almost all customs date back to centuries ago and continue until today.

2 Unique Things to Do in Crete

Grape Harvest and Production

The wine in Crete is sacred and its production process, from the picking of the grapes to the final production and bottling, is a huge celebration.

Starting with the picking of grapes and then the production of the wine, the Cretans see it as anything but a task. For them it is a blessing that God generously gives them and each year they enjoy it as a truly fulfilling group activity.

After harvesting, the grapes are cleaned and shipped to modern, state-of-the-art wineries where the famous Cretan wines are produced.

However, the producers keep back a small amount of the grapes and make their own homemade wine in the traditional, time-honoured way.

The production of homemade Cretan wine involves the pressing of the grapes in specially designed grape vats.

One after another, the people involved in the process step into the grape vat and press the grapes with their feet to make the extraction.

Throughout the process, music, dance, food and wine flow and a wonderfully entertaining time is had by everyone present.

Cretan wine comes from ancient varieties that continue to bloom and bear fruit in the same place where the ancient Mycenaean civilisation once existed.

It would be unthinkable to visit Crete and not taste authentic Cretan wine, made with passion, love and respect!

These special Cretan wines are made from unique local Cretan grape varieties such as Bilana, Bidiano and Thrapsathiri for white wines and Kotsifali, Mandilari and Liatiko for distinctive red wines.

In recent years, new categories of Cretan wines have been created, combining local varieties with other classic wine varieties such as Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah. The results are truly unique and create fascinating wine surprises.

In Crete, luxury hotel units have an extensive collection of Cretan wines and their guests can taste and appreciate them, while during the period from August to October tourists can participate in the grape harvest and wine production process.

Tsikoudia: The Clear Fragrant Nectar of Crete’s Earth

In addition to the wonderful Cretan wines, there is another product made from grapes that is the best-known traditional Cretan drink of all.

This product is Cretan Tsikoudia, or raki, a clear aromatic drink made from the grape skins.

After the wine making process, whatever is left over from the grapes is transferred to special cauldrons where the raki is then produced.

As the cauldron begins to boil, the first extracts begin to flow drop by drop and as the distillation continues, the raki receives the correct proportions and temperature. A good raki usually has an alcohol content of 18 degrees.

The sweet-smelling tsikoudia, still steaming, is the cue for yet another celebration.

Cretan tsikoudia is not just a local product. It is the identity of the Cretan culture and expresses the famous Cretan hospitality.

Try it at the luxurious Aquila hotels in Crete, the permanent corner of Cretan products.

About Marina Villatoro

Marina Kuperman Villatoro CEO of TravelExperta.com, a travel resource site to inspire families to travel with kids of all ages. Marina has been an expat 20+ years in Central America raising 2 boys in a multicultural, trilingual household. She travels all over the world with her family to give first hand experiences of where to eat, stay and play with kids. Needless to say, it’s never boring! Join Marina on Facebook and Twitter for more unique and boutique family travel!

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