Bijaya's choice to travel Greece has taken her to questioning the ways they welcome the New Year. 2011 has seen already its share of sad events here in the United States after the big apple dropped and fireworks took to the air a month ago. Makes me wish to take a flight to the Greek islands for a month or two. But since I can't at this time, I will turn to the backyard traveler for some inspiration.
Hello Fellow Adventurer,
It has been a month since New Year’s Day. I was planning to write this post about typical new year’s festivities in Greece, and I was going to use the Internet to gather all the information I needed, then disperse it all to you in an effort to educate and enlighten. But my plan didn’t quite work out.
I searched the Internet, I found pieces of information. But a voice inside me kept pestering, “You are no expert on Greece. Who are you to be handing out this information? Stick to what you know.”
So what do I know? First and foremost I know that I shouldn’t take as golden truth everything I read on the Internet.
How do they celebrate New Year’s in Greece? Apparently, a certain Agios Vasilis, Saint Basil, is involved. The image of Agios Vasilis seems to be known as Santa Claus where I sit and write this. Red suited, chubby, a welcoming smile beaming from the top of his long white beard, he is said to come and deliver gifts at New Year’s in Greece….All over Greece? Or do different parts of the country believe in different gift bearers? Ones who don’t look like Santa Claus?
Does he come down the chimney? Does he come at midnight? (My bet’s yes). Do portly Greek grandfathers dress up like him for the benefit of their little ones? Are lists involved? Are there Greek songs about how he’s coming to town? Does he live in the North Pole? Is there a red nosed reindeer involved?
I can’t stop these questions from bombarding me. I haven’t lived Agios Vasilis and how can I know all the answers unless I go to Greece or ask a Greek four-year-old?
How about the vasilopita, St. Basil’s bread? According to various sources on the Internet, it is a bread, a cake, a pie (depending on which site you stumble onto) eaten at New Year, which has a coin baked inside of it. Whoever gets the coin in their piece of bread will have good luck throughout the year.
What does it taste like? What kinds of cheers are involved when families get together to eat this bread/cake/pie and the lucky coin holder steps up?
Who’s Saint Basil? Forgive me. I know not much about Christianity. How’s he related to Saint Nick? Heck, who’s Saint Nick?
I’m so sorry, Fellow Adventurer, I’m drowning you and me in way too many questions. I, who set out to be the educator and enlightener.
Not this time.
This is the Backyard World Traveler signing off.