In my part of the world, in less than 10 hours, we'll be saying farewell to 2010 and welcoming 2011 feeling hopeful and positive that this brand New Year will be much happier, much jollier than 2010 and, most importantly, much more peaceful. As we are all preparing to welcome 2011 regardless of the time difference, let me share with you some of our customs and traditions on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
The photo above is my humble "Vasilopita" - Saint Basil's Cake. I didn't have time to bake it myself this year, so I got it from a cake shop. For us Greeks, it is unthinkable to welcome the New Year without our Vasilopita. Saint Basil is our very own Santa Claus who also visits the Greeks on New Year's Eve after Christmas!. So we prepare a cake for him in which we bake a coin. When the cake is cut on New Year's Day, the one who has the piece with the coin in it is the lucky person of the year. The lucky person must put the coin in his / her purse hoping that the New Year will bring them money.
Saint Basil will also visit the Greek children again and put presents under the tree or in their stockings. In Cyprus we've also got what we call "pouloustrina" - a small amount of money given to children on New Year's Day apart from the presents brought by Santa (Saint Basil)..But beyond the material side of the New Year , there's also the sentimental one. On New Year's Eve, the young ladies in the villages of Cyprus, will throw olive leaves into a glowing fire. And they will say: "Please Saint Basil, show me if X or Y loves me. If the olive leaf burns, it means that the boy named loves the girl! The sad thing is that this romantic tradition is threatened with extinction.
I wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous New Year. And may all your dreams and wishes come true.