the meaning of philotimo & melomakarona, traditional greek christmas cookies

Perhaps it may be time to define what philotimo means to every citizen of the world.  —Manos Hatzimalonas

melomakarona, traditional greek christmas cookies | conifères & feuillusMelomakarona are traditional Greek Christmas cookies. They are flavoured with orange, spices and brandy, soaked in a honey syrup and topped with a sprinkle of crushed walnuts.  The recipe for these comes to me from the family of my friend of over 30 years, Kathy. The recipe along with a story about our friendship may be found in the Harvest Gather Feast Issue of The Supper Club Magazine. The Supper Club Magazine is an international magazine bringing together recipes and stories from around the world and celebrating people, culture and roots. Below is an excerpt of the my story.


The Meaning of Philotimo

Every so often, you meet someone who leaves an indelible mark in your memory. Years go by, they precipitate into decades; you grow older and inevitably, as it happens so often in life, life happens and you grow apart. But still, this person remains there, in the folds of your mind, in the prime of their life, in the ripples they’ve set into motion. It could be a simple word, a smile, a small gesture of kindness. Sometimes, it’s an enormous bag of homemade cookies and you only realize the significance of it long after the cookies have been blissfully devoured.

I met my friend Kathy on the first day of high school. I, an awkward, shy Indian girl, ranking zero on the popularity scale. Kathy was my opposite. She was beautiful, outgoing, hilarious and fun to be around. Somehow, in the way that you do at this age, we became best friends almost overnight. To an uninformed eye, we must have made an unlikely duo. But looking back now, knowing that Kathy is one of those rare gems, if anyone could’ve looked past my unworthy exterior, it was her.

melomakarona, greek christmas cookies | conifères & feuillusmelomakarona, greek christmas cookies | conifères & feuillus


23 thoughts on “the meaning of philotimo & melomakarona, traditional greek christmas cookies

  1. When I saw the title of your post I clicked on the post in order to check the recipe of the melomakarona and to compare it with mine recipe (you can find it on my blog if you are interested). Seeing these wonderful picture and reading about filotimo was something that made me even happier, you see I am a Greek and reading about the meaning of filotimo through your story was a pleasant surpise!
    Thanks for sharing your story!
    Happy holidays Annika!

    1. I am so happy to hear that… you have a lot to be proud of, it’s a beautiful culture and the modern world owes so much to it. I will check out your recipe. The one that I have is from a Greek friend who lives in Glyfada.

  2. Thank you for this post. I’m Greek and have been surrounded all my life by Greek sweet treats, but these were my dad’s favorites and this week would have been his 92nd birthday. I love the way life sometimes offers a tip of the hat to a memory. ❤

  3. Beautiful beginning of the story, Annika! And the pictures are so moody and full of atmosphere! The cookies sound amazing, as well. 🙂

  4. Melomakarona, I am greek and I do make them every did a fabulous job!!! They look delicious. Thank you for sharing your story about your friend Kathy and the word Filotimo. = Sevasmos = Respect 🙂 Sophie 🙂

    1. Thank you dear. Haha… it took many tries but I am now happy to have this recipe from my friend. They really are not that hard to make. I live in Canada but am blessed to have many friends of Greek heritage and there is something very real about this concept of filotimo deep in Greek culture, each one shows this to me time and time again.

      1. So, sorry for late response I have been fighting the flu uffff. It is a simple, straight forward recipe….varies in areas of Greece but the taste is almost the same. 🙂

  5. That is indeed a excerpt written with a dab hand, as interesting as the recipe promises to be. Melomakarona sounds beatifically good from the sound of the ingredients. Anything with orange and spices sets my heart thrumming 🙂 And the photo shoot as usual is par excellence. xx

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