New Year’s tradition of Crete
Just like Christmas, New Year’s Day is a very important and celebrated day of the holiday season and Cretans, famous for their jubilant and joyous celebrations make sure that the first day of the New Year is one worth remember all year long!
Crete’s New Year’s Day traditions are a festive blend of western European traditions as well as some time-honored practices and customs, with their routs buried deep in the Cretan Folklore inheritance. Seasonal decorations adorn the streets and squares of every city, town or village, and Santa makes his appearance every here and there, even though Santa and Saint Basil (Santa’s Greek equivalent) are not quite the same. Saint Basil (Agios Vassilios), who visits every home and bestows children with presents, does so on New Year’s Eve instead of Christmas, so most present exchanges of the holiday season are done on New Year’s, wishfully thinking that you will be receiving nice gifts all year round!
On New Year’s Eve morning, young children all around Crete get their little “trigona” (music triangles) or other musical instruments and go door to door singing the traditional “kalanda”, New Year’s carols that extend wishes for a prosperous upcoming year. In return, they receive money and holiday treats, such as the delicious “melomakarona” and “kourmabiedes” that no home goes without during the holiday season! Cretan housewives prepare a scrumptious cake in honour of Saint Basil called “Basilopita”, and add a gold coin in the mix. When the old year passes and the New Year arrives, on the stroke of midnight, the family shares the “Basilopita” and whoever finds the gold coin in his piece will be blessed with luck all year round! Saint Basil gets his cut too, families always leave a piece of the cake and some wine for him to drink when he visits their home and offer his gifts.
Another time honored and well respected New Year’s tradition of Crete is the “podariko”, the first foot of the year as you might call it. The podariko is literally the first person who will set foot through the threshold of each house, and that person should be carrying some sort of present, usually a pomegranate that symbolizes affluence and good fortune.
New Year’s Day could not be without a big feast. So naturally, Cretans celebrate this day with lots of delicious food and good wine, with festive parties in every home and music and dancing! Wherever in Crete you may be, you will hear the gleeful sounds of celebration, smell the scents of all the enticing dishes and undoubtedly, you too will feel that this New Year is going to be the best Year ever!