St Basil's Cake

A year of health and St Basil’s lucky coin of justice


I just stored my lucky New Year coin protectively like a precious blessing. This year the coin will bring us health -this is what the New Year’s cake promised when we ceremoniously cut it on the 1st January 2013.

Every New Year’s Day-when we slice St Basil’s cake and eat through its aromatic brioche texture, flavoured with mastic and mahlepi, in search of the lucky coin- my British and other non-Greek guests ask where this tradition comes from and what it really means.

The person who receives the coin is destined to have a year of great luck. And every so often the coin falls to a special piece cut for the house or, like this year, for health.

So why do we do this?

The cake is named after St Basil who may have been the real Santa Claus (not the Coca Cola one) and who was an archbishop in Cappadocia. When Basil took over his post he realized that great injustice had been done to his town people through high unjustified taxation -that rings a bell does it not? To return town folk their fortune and to overcome the obstacle of how to identify the owners of the different items Basil decided to bake a massive cake and to place their precious stones, cold and coins in the cake. He then invited the whole town to a big celebration where that cake was cut ceremoniously. The myth says that miraculously each person received their own possessions in the piece given to them. After Basil died the cake ceremony became a tradition.

Tonight, well into 2013, I am contemplating my luck of which I have much. I found this a picture of this year’s New Year dinner and my lucky coin and thought I’d share my good fortune with you.

Be lucky, healthy and happy.

This entry is dedicated to Tom (28), Vaggelio(37), Lucy(32) who left us in the past seven years; to Pavlos and my wonderful aunts Claire and Ellie who beat and are beating cancer; and to our mental health which we all still have because of our own courage and the love of our friends and family.

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