Today we are going to tell you about the Greek tradition of VASILOPITA, the cake we cut and share on New Year’s Eve or Day. The vasilopita is usually a cake with a coin inside it. As we cut and share it, we cut the first pieces for Jesus, Saint Basil, the poor, the house, and then the members of the family and the friends. The “head” of the family — grand father or father — does the cutting and sharing, the rest of us search to find the coin, as whoever gets it will be the luckiest one throughout the year.
Now the history behind this tradition is:
In the 14th century Cappadokia, a Byzantine province in Asia Minor, suffered from famine but this fact did not stop the heartless eparch of the town from demanding to get the taxes, threatening the town with destruction. St.Vasilios, the Bishop in Caesareia, urged the people to offer their valuables in order to rescue their town. The people obeyed and Saint Vasilios collected a pile of offerings to give the eparch, but the last minute he managed to smooth his heart and change his mind. Now Saint Vasilios had a problem: he was left with a pile of valuables to give back to the people, without knowing who they belonged to! So,he got a brilliant idea: he asked the baker to bake one small cake for each family and he put one piece of jewellery inside. And the miracle happened: each family got what they had given!!!
Ever since that time we celebrate this event by sharing the cake with the coin – only one coin, no more…