Last Updated on January 24, 2023 by Celeste.
New Year’s Eve is a time to reminisce about the past year, embrace the present, and look forward to the year ahead. People all over the world have their own unique New Year’s traditions they enjoy each year alongside family and friends. In Greece, you’ll be surprised by all the various ways to usher in a new year. So don’t forget to raise a glass at midnight and embrace these unique Greek New Year Traditions!
Greek New Year Traditions
1. Agios Vassilis
Saint Basil or Agios Vassilis is the Greek Santa. He arrives to Greek homes a week after Christmas and brings presents for the children on New Year’s Eve. Basil the Great was born 330 AD and is one of the forefathers of the Greek Orthodox Church. Agios Vassilis donated his wealth to the poor and is considered the founder of the first hospitals and orphanages in Greece. He died on January first, and that is why his name day is celebrated on that day.
Saint Basil gave his name to the Vassilopita, or Greek New Year’s cake. The Vassilopita is made of a variety of dough and appears in different forms depending on the Greek region and family tradition. Inside the cake, a coin – the flouri – is hidden. The person that finds the coin will have good luck and good fortune for the year ahead. The Vassilopita is sliced traditionally representing the cross and this is done after midnight to bring good luck and blessings to the house.
3. Play Cards
Good luck plays an important role in many Greek traditions. On New Year’s Eve, families get together, and play card games for good luck. The games can go on for hours and end around midnight. The state lottery is also very popular during the holiday season in Greece. Rolling dice is another favorite of the New Year.
Do you want to read more? In New Year traditions in Greece, you’ll find everything else that you need to know.
Happy New Year!