New Year Traditions In Greece

  • by XpatAthens
  • Monday, 30 December 2019
New Year Traditions In Greece
New Year or ‘Protohronia’ is one of the most anticipated holidays and Greeks celebrate it extensively with thunderous jubilance. There are several New Year traditions in Greece and all of them are very interesting in their own aspect. Extensive fire work shows are arranged all over the country in different cities, as well as live music concerts and festivities. January 1 is not just New Year's Day in Greece, but also St. Basil's Day - the name day of Vasilis and Vasiliki. Here are a few of the different New Years traditions in Greece:


On New Year’s Day in Greece, families get together for a big feast and it is on this day that St. Basil or Agios Vasilis delivers his gifts to children. It is the day that the traditional ‘Vasilopita’ is cut - a celebratory cake dedicated to St. Basil that is cut for good fortune.

Playing Cards

As New Years is considered as an enormously auspicious day with lots of good fortunes related to it, so it is the day when many Greeks engage in playing cards. Card playing or rolling the dice happen to be a custom in the country as the Greeks consider it to be lucky and look forward to the new year ahead with good fortune.

Carol Singing

People sing the New Year Carols. The children visit the houses in the neighborhood one after another and sing the "Kalanda" and wish New Year to everyone. It is also the practice to gift the children with money on the New Year Day.

The 'Podariko' Tradition

The first custom to take place with the advent of the New Year in Greece is called ‘podariko’ which is the Greek equivalent to the Northern English and Scottish ‘first foot’ tradition. According to Greek tradition the first person to enter a house on New Year’s Day brings either good luck or bad luck to the household. To this day many hosts keep the tradition alive by specially selecting the person who enters first into their house.

Hanging A Squill Bulb Or Onion

The Greeks hang bulbs of squill or onion on their front door on New Year’s Eve. This tradition is believed to date back to the times of the celebrated 6th century Greek thinker, Pythagoras. These plants can grow fast and survive when uprooted; as such, Greeks have designated bulbs of squill to symbolize growth and regeneration. After the New Year sets in, the the bulb is taken inside and preserved for the rest of the year.

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