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December 31, 2021

New Year Customs Throughout Greece

Pomegranate, royal pie and many other customs.

Vasilopita:

The custom of the royal pie is very old, it comes from the one celebrated in the ancient Greek festival of "Kronia" (and later of the Roman "Saturnalia") received by the Franks. From the Great Kingdom came the habit of placing a coin in the pie and declaring as "King of the night" the one who found it. According to tradition, GreatVasileios, in order to return the valuables to the beneficiaries, not knowing who owns what, ordered small loaves to be made in which he placed one of the coins or valuables and distributed them to the inhabitants the next day of the church service. According to another custom, instead of a coin, they put a bean, and the one who found it was called a "bean king".

The emergence of the "king of the night" does not concern Greece. In France, there is a custom related but not associated with the New Year.

Cutting on royal pies is one of the few primitive customs that survives. According to Professor Dimitris Loukatos, it is an evolution of the well-known and popular custom in New Year's pies. In ancient times there was the custom of festive bread, which in major agricultural festivals the ancient Greeks offered to the gods.

The broken pomegranate in the Peloponnese:

The custom says that when the weather changes, one has to throw a pomegranate on the front door of the house to break it. Pomegranate advises abundance, good luck and fertility.

The pomegranate breaks on the door of the house to bring them all right and good luck. There is also a variation where on New Year's morning the family goes to church together and the householder has a pomegranate in his pocket to bless it and when he returns home, he breaks it to bring the blessing to his home.

The Charm:

This custom has been mentioned since the 6th century BC. as the onion (Scilla maritima) or dog onion, was an ordinary plant where it was believed to have great power that transmits it to the living and the inanimate. For this reason, everyone used to hang an onion in their house on New Year's Eve.

The "provente" and the "moulistrina" in Samos:

In addition to the usual vasilopita, the women of Samos also make "provente", a dish full of local sweets. In every house on the first day of the year they break a pomegranate and scatter the seeds to fill the house with happiness and good luck. Those who will make "podariko" (enter the house first), get the "balistrina", ie. the first pocket money of the year.

The Royal Ships in Chios:

According to this custom, the parishes of the island build ships, in reduction, which "compete" in quality and fidelity with the originals. The groups, ie. the crew, of each ship sing New Year carols.

Tell us if you have different customs in your area and what those are.

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