For certain, Greek honey cookies (melomakarona) will shine again this year both on Christmas day and New Year’s Eve! But what is their history?
Melomakarona: What is their history?
The most delicious Greek honey cookies (melomakarona) are crispy on the outside and honeyed enough inside, sprinkled with plenty of walnut. This combination is enough to elevate their taste! Melomakarona have etymologically an ancient Greek origin even if their name reminds of the Italian pasta (in Greek, “μακαρόνι” – macaroni). The “macaroni” derives from the Medieval Greek word “μακαρωνία” (macaronia) which used to be a pasta-based funeral dinner where dead were mourned. Macaronia in turn derives from the ancient Greek word “μακαρία” (makaria) which was a slice of bread in the shape of melomakarona and was offered after the funeral.
Later, the makaria was enriched with honey syrup and that’s how we ended up with the well-known and beloved melomakarona! Many claim that this change happened during the Byzantine era, as the Asia Minor Greeks established them as a Christmas sweet, giving them the name “φοινίκια” (finikia). Since the ancient times, the walnuts and the honey were considered to be symbols of wellness, creativity and fertility. That is the reason why we bake and eat melomakarona only during the festive days of Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Recipe for Melomakarona: https://skopeloshotels.eu/christmas-in-skopelos-island-christmas-sweets/