Happy New Year from Greece! Share our traditions and a recipe.
Each area of Greece has a unique recipe for New Year’s Cake or New Year’s Bread.
by asnycnow presenter vicki nikolaidis
I always bake a double batch of the following cake recipe in a huge baking pan. This is a very farmer-friendly recipe with all the fresh ingredients usually considered easily at hand on a running farm.
New Year’s Bread is yeast bread with flavorings such as cinnamon, anise seeds and orange peel as well as mastic or ouzo plus ½ cup of sugar for a sweeter tasting bread to celebrate the coming of the new year. The bread is decorated with walnuts, cherries, or almonds.
For each, either the cake or the bread, a gold coin is placed in the dough before baking. The person who receives the coin in her or his piece of sweet has received some extra luck for the coming year.
A small ritual takes place over the cake before serving. The sign of the cross is made three times over the cake. After which a piece is cut for the Christ child, a piece is cut for the home and next for each of the family members and friends celebrating together.
I also enjoy another tradition used to predict the amount of riches the family will receive in the next year. A ripe pomegranate is chosen for throwing! It is thrown against the floor or sidewalk; how many of the beautiful ruby-red kernel-like fruits spread across the area is the amount of riches expected for the coming year; the more seeds that burst out of the pomegranate, the more riches.
For more about the New Year’s traditions we in Greece use to celebrate the coming of the new year, please go to ExploreCrete.com at this link.
You will learn more about our tradition of exchanging gifts for New Year rather than Christmas and our gifts are delivered by Saint Vasilis rather than Santa Claus! You will also find an ancient good luck custom that I still enjoy practicing at each new year – having to do with the poisonous sea-onion.
Here’s hoping you will find the lucky coin this year!
Happy New Year! Kali Xronia! Καλή Χρονιά!
~Vasilopitta Efkoli | Easy Greek New Year’s Cake~
- 4 cups flour, sifted
- 6 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1.5 cups milk
- Grated lemon rind
- Confectioner’s sugar
- Sift flour and baking powder together.
Cream butter, add sugar gradually; beat together until mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in alternately, until just smooth, flour mixture and milk. Add 1 teaspoon grated lemon grind.
Grease a 12-inches round baking pan and line with waxed paper. Turn batter into the prepared pan, put in a silver of gold coin and bake in a moderate oven for about 40 minutes. When cold sieve over confectioner’s sugar. The lucky person gets the coin.
Collection Grecque The Best Book of Greek Cookery by Chrissa Paradissis (1967) P. Efstathiadis & Sons, Athens, pages 166 and 167
December 31, 2009