The festive season kicked off in Athens with the Christmas tree lighting at Syntagma Square opposite the Greek Parliament building on Thursday evening.
Kostas Bakoyannis, the mayor of Athens, gave the official signal for the illumination of the giant 21-meter-high tree that arrived from Karpenisi, located in central Greece.
He welcomed other mayors from all over the world to the central stage that had been set up in Syntagma Square. The tree was lit up after a countdown.
New York Mayor at Athens Christmas tree illumination
Everyone, including the mayor of New York, Eric Adams, who was an official guest of Kostas Bakoyannis in Athens, sent their own wishes.
“Today, the heart of dozens of cities from all over the world beats in Athens,” Bakoyannis said. “It is a great honor…[that] mayors of such important cities of the world…[are] with us at this beautiful event, which opens the curtain of a rich festive program.”
“The message we send tonight with the lighting of the tree and of Athens is one and finds us all united: Light always defeats darkness,” he added. “The need for unity and solidarity is imperative, more than [at] any other time.”
The Christmas tree is illuminated with hundreds of lights and is decorated with thousands of boules and ornaments.
Hundreds of Athenians and visitors had flocked to Syntagma Square to watch the glittering event, accompanied by live music.
Earlier on Thursday, Bakoyannis and Adams signed an agreement making Athens and New York twin cities.
In his speech, Bakoyannis underscored that despite being divided by an ocean, the two cities are linked by common goals of democracy and the elimination of inequalities.
“From the Parthenon to the Statue of Liberty and from Astoria to Koukaki, we are proud to offer the opportunity to the thousands of Greeks of New York to see the two capitals of their heart come even closer,” he said.
On his part, Adams noted that “New York is the Athens of the U.S. because both cities believe in the values of democracy, the eradication of social inequalities, and the protection of the environment to ensure a better quality of life for inhabitants.”
“The aim should be for the two cities to work together to solve the same problems and become model cities for the whole world,” the New York mayor said.