St. Basil's Day -- What is St. Basil's Day?
The Greek New Year
St. Basil's Day marks the Greek New Year and is celebrated on January 1. Named after St. Basil, one of the forefathers of the Greek Orthodox Church, St. Basil's Day commemorates the day of his death which is believed to be New Year's Day.
St. Basil is remembered most often for his generosity and his kindness in spirit, as he gave to Greece's poor and destitute.
St. Basil Traditions in Greece
While Christmas is often considered the premiere Christian holiday in the world, St. Basil's Day is the most celebrated holiday in Greece, a time where presents are exchanged and stories are told of how St. Basil would come in the night and leave gifts for Greek children.
As traditional with Christmas, St. Basil celebrations include large feasts, drinks and music as families and friends gather together.
In addition to a bounty of food, St. Basil's Cake (or Vassilopitta, in Greek) is a traditional dessert served, prepared with a silver or gold coin baked inside. The cake is then distributed in accordance to a strict order, including the first piece in rememberance of St. Basil, the second for the household, the third to the eldest member of the household through the youngest.
Whoever receives the coin in their cake shall find great luck and fortune in the New Year.
Children often sing songs of St. Basil and share in traditions of good luck, from the crossing of the house threshold.
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