New Year in Greece

January 10th 2024 in Explore
New Year in Greece

New Year in Greece

Come and Celebrate It With Us

Athens has planned a New Year celebration with live music and an all-night DJ party at the Varvakeios Municipal Market. Festivities will take place at Syntagma Square and will begin at 10:30 pm. Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyiannis will lead the traditional countdown to midnight, and TV personalities Fotis Sergoulopoulos and Jenny Melita will host the evening’s events. The festivities feature a ten-member orchestra, soloists, tenor Marios Frangoulis, and singer Giorgos Perris. They will perform a festive musical program alongside an impressive audiovisual show. The City of Athens Cultural Center, the Technopolis of Athens Municipality, ‘Athens Culture Net’, ‘This is Athens’, and the municipal radio station ‘Athina 9,84’ organise the New Year festivities.

Firework Shows for the New Year

Fireworks play a crucial role in New Year’s celebrations around the world. With its abundant natural wonders and archaeological sites, Greece offers an even more awe-inspiring display of light and colour. On New Year’s Eve, cities and villages nationwide light up the night sky with magnificent, unique spectacles. While each show is distinct, they are all breathtaking to witness.

Greek New Year’s Cake, or Vasilopita

On January 1st, people celebrate New Year’s Day and the feast day of Greek Orthodox Saint Basil. To honour both occasions, Greeks bake a coin into a cake called “Vasilopita.” This delicious cake is sliced up and served, and the first piece is reserved for Jesus, while the rest is shared among family members and even those absent. Additionally, a slice is also given to “the house.” Whoever finds the coin in their slice is believed to have good luck for the rest of the year.

Carolers Bring Good Luck to Your Home

Carolling is a popular tradition in Greece that is not limited to Christmas celebrations. During the New Year, carolers visit the homes in their neighbourhoods, sing carols (known as “Kalanda”) and play the triangle. Giving money to the children who come to your door is customary. The songs are believed to bring blessings to your home for the new year, making it good luck to have a caroler visit you. This is an ancient tradition that is still practised throughout the entire country!

Playing Cards

In Greece, people celebrate the New Year with good fortune and joy. One way to attract more luck is by playing games, which is a tradition that most Greeks enjoy. The bets are typically modest and symbolic, to turn something out of nothing, which is a true embodiment of luck. Even with small amounts at stake, people get very enthusiastic, and the games usually last all night, even in local cafés and taverns. Board games, dice, and lotteries are the most popular games played in Greece. Giving scratch-off lottery tickets as gifts to friends on New Year’s Eve is customary.

One more place on the table

As per tradition, Greeks celebrate New Year’s Eve with a delicious feast. It’s a common practice to invite friends and family to the house and serve a delicious meal before heading out to welcome the upcoming year. As a symbolic ritual closely associated with legendary Greek hospitality, many households set an extra empty place at the table on New Year’s Eve, ensuring there’s always a place for any newcomer.

Smashing pomegranates, a Greek New Year celebration

In Greece, hanging a large, ripe pomegranate over the front door on New Year’s Eve is a common tradition. Minutes before midnight, the family leaves the house, and after the stroke, the “First Footer,” usually a lucky child, enters the house with their right foot first. This person is responsible for bringing good luck to everyone living in the house for the rest of the year. While the “First Footer” enters the house, another family member grabs the pomegranate with their right hand and smashes it against the door, causing as many seeds as possible to fly around the room. According to tradition, the more seeds fall on the floor, the more good fortune will be brought to the house.