We are pleased to be guests of friends over New Year’s to share in the Tradition of Vasilopita. Our hosts said the bread is to be shared among family and close friends.
New Year’s Day falls on the feast day of St. Vasilios (Basil), an important saint in the Orthodox Church. On that day, the family gathers for the traditional New Year’s dinner and the cutting of the Vasilopita — a bread named for St. Vasilios.
A coin is baked inside the Vasilopita. The head of the family cuts the first slice for the Lord, the second for the home, and then the remainder of the bread is divided equally among family and friends.
Whoever finds the coin in his portion will have fortune in the New Year. If the coin is found in the Lord’s slice, the entire household will be blessed.
The Tradition of Vasilopita
The tradition of the Vasilopita goes back to the Roman Empire when the Roman governor of Cappadocia sent his representatives to Bishop Vasilios of Caesarea to demand gold. The Christians loved the Bishop so they brought him all their gold. He prayed all night to God to save the city. In the morning, the governor went to Bishop Vasilios and demanded the gold. He told the governor the gold belonged to the poor and his love of money would destroy him. Before the governor could even touch the gold, he and his army retreated in a cloud of dust — a miracle!
Bishop Vasilios decided the best way to return the gold back to the people was to divide it by placing pieces of it in baked loaves of bread, lest they become greedy and grab more than their share. When each received his share of the bread, he also found his own gold in it – another miracle!
Happy 2014! May the year bring you your own miracles.