For years and years, I thought that Vasilopita was a cake that you cut on the 1st January to celebrate a Happy New Year. However according to the Orthodox Church, this mis-conception is completley wrong.
Vasilopita is not a New Years Day Cake!
Vasilopita is a cake that is made to celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Basil and Orthodox New Years Day is actually celebrated on the 1st of September!!
Confused? So, was I. Here is some more information that might help explain things:
1. Vasilopita Is Not A New Years Day Cake
Vasilopita is not a New Years Day Cake – it is actually a cake that is made to celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Basil on the 1st of January each year.
2. Vasilopita is Named After Saint Basil The Great
The word/name Basil in the Greek language is Vasilikos. The Greek word pita means cake or pie. Vasilopita literally translates to: Basil’s Cake.
3. The 1st of January is not New Years Day
According to the Orthodox Church New Years Day is celebrated on the 1st of September and not on the 1st of January. I was really confused about this so I wrote a post about it to explain the details. You can read it here: Happy New Year – Learn Why The Greek Orthodox Church Celebrates the New Year on the 1st of September.
4. Decorating the Vasilopita is a huge mis-understanding!
Each year we decorate the Vasilopita with the new year’s date. Sometimes it is dusted with icing sugar to represent the snow and the holiday season and sometimes, the Vasilopita has little icons of Santa and Christmas trees.
Although I personally think it is heaps of fun to creatively decorate the Vasilopita, we must remember that the cake is not made to celebrate the new year or Christmas. It is made for the Feast Day of St Basil.
5. Is it OK to Create New Traditions?
Our parents and grandparents have passed down the tradition of Vasilopita and along the way, the true meaning of the tradition has been lost. Most of us think that Vasilopita is the New Years Day cake. It is a fun tradition that we celebrate with our families every year and it’s something that we look forward to. So is it ok that we have created this new tradition?
What do you think?
In my opinion, I think it is ok to create new family traditions, what ever they may be. However if you cut a Vasilopita on New Years Day then please take the time to remember the Feast Day of St Basil as well. Cut a piece of the bread for St Basil when you are cutting the cake follow these guidelines on how to “correctly” cut the cake in the right order: How To Cut Vasilopita.
Why I Love Vasilopita!
I personally love the tradition of cutting the Vasilopita on New Years Day. I look forward to it every year and I know that all of my little cousins do too. We wait anxiously to find out who will will the lucky gold coin and then we butter up the bread and eat it for breakfast, and then again at lunch and then again for dinner (if there is any left!) It is a family tradition that we celebrate to welcome the New Year. I know it’s not correct according to the Orthodox Church, but it is what my family has done for years. I want to continue the tradition with my own family.
How do you celebrate the tradition of Vasilopita?
Please share your comments below.
Other Posts About Vasilopita:
- How to Cut Vasilopita – The New Years Bread
- Vasilopita – Greek New Years Day Bread
- The History of Vasilopita
- A Thermomix Recipe for Vasilopita