As the year ends, why not learn about and celebrate Greek heritage by embracing some of Greece’s traditional New Year customs and rituals? From spraying holy water for good luck to decorating with bay leaves and special sweets, there are plenty of fun and unique ways you can ring in the new year.
Spray Holy Water
In Greek households, it is a common tradition on New Year’s Eve to spray each other with holy water. This ritual is believed that sacred water grants protection from all evil spirits. Upon splashing each other, families often say things such as “good luck!”.
Set Off Fireworks
Fireworks are an essential part of any traditional Greek celebration, and New Year’s Eve is no exception. The loud bangs from the pyrotechnics are said to scare away any bad luck lingering around from the previous year. Setting off fireworks has long been a favorite way for Greeks to celebrate special occasions, so make sure you have plenty of sparkles ready!
Share a Plate of Vasilopita
On New Year’s Day in Greece, it’s customary to cut a special cake called vasilopita before dinner. Each person slices off a piece that contains either a small coin or charm – depending on their age. Whoever finds the coin or charm is said to be lucky throughout the rest of the year.
Decorate with Bay Leaves
Another popular custom during this time in Greece was to adorn homes with bay leaves – symbols of good health, fertility, nutrition, wisdom, strength, and peace – usually hung above doorways for extra protection from evil spirits. Don’t forget to also stock up on unique sweets like melomakarona (Christmas honey cookies), which are traditional treats that many Greeks enjoy over New Year’s.