Date of Performance/Collection:
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Greek
E: You told me about a Greek New Year’s Day food tradition, could you tell me more about that?
H: Every year on New Year’s Day, my family eats a unique cake known as the Vasilopita, baked with a gold coin in the center. Its a tradition that has been passed down for generations, supposedly having been started with St. Basil centuries ago. He was said to have baked cakes for the poor on a holiday and snuck gold coins to them to help them out as well. Today, the whole household gets together to cut the cake, each slice for a different person. The first three are for the father, son and the holy spirit, the next is for the house, and the next is either the oldest member of the household or the head of the household, and then going down from there. Whoever gets the coin is supposed to be given good luck for the entire year.
E: Where did you learn this?
H: I’ve been doing it my whole life, but I always associate the tradition with my grandmother, because she is usually the one making the cake.
E: Why do you remember it?
H: It’s memorable because its always the first thing we do on the New Year. No matter if I’m at a party or out with friends or anything like that, my first move after that’s over is always to go home and cut the vasilopita with the family
E: What do you like about the tradition?
H: I think the tradition is about staying humble and remembering how lucky we all are. It’s also about hope and optimism with a whole new year just beginning. It sets the tone for the year and refocuses me on what’s ahead.
My informant is a first generation American his family being from Greece. He’s always been very lively when speaking about his heritage. He was elated when he heard I had to interview people about folklore. This was our transcribed conversation.
This is extremely similar to La Fève which is essentially the same concept but in France. I was so happy to see something from my culture have so many parallels with another culture. The only difference is in France instead of a gold coin it’s a figurine. Nonetheless, I believe it serves as a good reminder to be charitable and to come together with your family.