Welcoming the New Year in Greece is always associated with 'Vassilopita'. 'Vassilopita' is a round cake decorated on top with the number of the New Year with a coin hidden inside. The name Vassilopita translates to St Basil's (Vassili's) pie. St Basil according to tradition was the bishop of Caesarea. He was a kind man who helped the poor and those in need. He is our 'Santa' who visits the houses on New Years eve and not on Christmas eve, as happens here in Ireland. Some sources link this celebration to the ancient Greek festival of King Cronus (Kronia).
On New Year's eve families and friends gather in homes for a late dinner to welcome the new year. As soon as the countdown and the celebrations finish, the 'Vassilopita' is brought to the table . The cake is first blessed and the first piece is offered to Christ. The rest is then cut and distributed according to seniority first among the family and then to friends. Pieces are also cut for absent and sick members of the family. There is always great excitement as people 'dig' into their slices to see who finds the coin -who will be the lucky one for the following year!
Luckily the baking of 'Vassilopita' continues throughout the whole month of January with the cake being offered as a present when visiting houses and for the non stop celebrations at work places, various associations and at public occasions. Here is a simple recipe for you to try !