Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year's in Greece

Like most nations on earth, Greece celebrates the start of the New Year on January 1st. This date is the Name Day of Vassilis (Basil) and persons named Vassilis will receive a gift and congratulations on this day. All churches or monasteries named for this saint will offer special services and a celebration including food and drink.

Quote from the Liturgy of St. Basil

The bread which you use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.

New Year's Day Customs

In Greece, it is considered lucky to gamble on this day, whether you win or lose, and traditionally, people would gather to play cards on a table covered with green felt. Since Greece has opened up its casinos to locals, this custom makes sure it's a busy day at the official gambling palaces throughout Greece.
The herb basil is connected to this saint and day, and is believed to have both healing and protective powers.

On this day, any vessel of water is emptied and filled with fresh water, an echo of ancient New Year traditions.

But the biggest part of the day concerns the special cake, the vassilopita, which is prepared with a small coin concealed in it. Whoever gets the piece with the coin can expect especially good luck in the coming year.

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