History of Vasilopita

The custom of Vasilopita in the New Year, the cutting, the wishes for the new year, the history of Vasilopita, the roots in antiquity, the relationship of cutting with the Orthodox Religious tradition and Basil the Great. Vasilopita is the name of the pie that is prepared in some countries on the Christian New Year's Eve and is cut (shared) shortly after the time changes.
In Athens, the so-called "public" Vasilopita is common, which is made mainly from flour, eggs, sugar and milk, it is made in various sizes and types, but it is usually puffy, fluffy and sweet. In other places, other methods of manufacturing with spices etc. prevail.
In western Macedonia, instead of the "public" Vasilopita, the Vasilopita is often a cheese pie or onion pie. But the basic common feature is that inside all of them a coin is placed, usually common but in some cases gold (constantinatus) or silver.
In the Greek countryside, depending on the custom, a small piece of straw, vine or olive is placed inside the vasilopitas or, in livestock areas, a small piece of cheese, to bring good luck in the production.
In other places, instead, they make a small wreath of vines that whoever finds it in the fields will be lucky in sparta, or in olive production or wine, etc. Often the number of the new year is written on the king cake, with rows of peeled almonds or with sugar.

Vasilopita, according to Greek custom, is the name of the pie made on New Year's Eve. It contains a gold fleur (coin) which, according to tradition, will bring good luck to whoever finds it and is cut and shared in a family gathering immediately upon the arrival of the new year. year usually after binge eating. The number of the new year is written on the Vasilopita with a row of peeled chocolate or sugar almonds. So shortly before 24:00 exactly at midnight when the change of the year is about to happen the lights go out and counting down from ten to one and immediately after they come back on wishing and rejoicing everyone happy birthday and happy new year with the spectacular fireworks in the sky. Vasilopita comes onto the table where the host, after crossing her with the knife three times, says: Happy Birthday and Time! and begins to cut it with the first piece of Christ, the Virgin Mary, the House, the Landlord, the Landlady, the Poor, Saint Basil and the others present in order of kinship and age with the last piece of the poor or again the house, without Of course, any immigrants, patients and other family members who for various reasons are not present should be forgotten. With the coming of the new year, they celebrate: Vasilios, Vasileia, Vasiliki etc. The cutting of the Vasilopita also takes place on the other days of the "Twelve Days" of the holidays. Ministries, services, schools, offices and associations may cut king cakes until the month of February.

The custom of the king pie probably has its roots in the ancient Greek holiday of "Kronia" and the Roman "Saturnalia" which were adopted by the Franks. In the Saturnalia of Rome, they made sweets and pies, in which they put coins. Lucky was the one in which the coin fell.

From Basil the Great came the custom of placing a coin inside the pie and proclaiming whoever found it "King of the Night"*. Basil the Great, according to tradition, in order to return the valuables to the beneficiaries, not knowing who owns what, ordered small loaves to be prepared in which he placed each of the coins or valuables and distributed them to the residents the day after church. According to another custom, instead of a coin, they put a bean and the one who found it was called the "bean king".

But beyond this Frankish custom, which prevailed in Europe, there is also a religious tradition that is also connected to the personality of the Great Basil. According to religious tradition, once upon a time in Caesarea of Cappadocia in Asia Minor, where Basil the Great was the bishop, the Prefect of Cappadocia came to occupy it with the intention of plundering it. Then Basil the Great asked the rich of his city to collect all the gold they could in order to deliver it as a "ransom" to the coming conqueror. Many valuables were indeed collected. However, according to tradition, either because the prefect repented, or (according to others) miraculously Saint Mercurius with a multitude of Angels removed his army, the prefect freed the city from imminent destruction. However, in order for Basil the Great to return the valuables to the beneficiaries, not knowing who owned what, he ordered small loaves to be prepared in which he placed each of the coins or valuables and distributed them to the residents the day after church. This event resulted in double joy from the avoidance of the destruction of the city and this tradition continued during the commemoration of the day of his death (the feast of the Saint and the Great Basil).