Blog-Christmas Eve 2024 Kefalonia

New year’s eve in Kefalonia

If the entire holiday season in Greece is made special by traditions and legends, the New Year is a real apotheosis of superstitions, religious rituals and some curious habits.  From cakes to carols, from pomegranates to cologne, here are 5 New Year traditions in Kefalonia that you might not know about.

  1. The day starts with singing
    Carols here in Kefalonia are not only associated with Christmas, but also with celebrations for the New Year.  On New Year’s Eve, children wake up early and spend the morning running from house to house singing “kalanda”, festive songs accompanied by a triangle.
  1. Cologne for everyone!
    In the afternoon the streets of Argostoli become the scene of a very special event. Young and old meet on the Lithostroto, the main street, to listen to traditional songs and spray themselves with eau de cologne.  The origins of this custom are not clear, but various testimonies from the beginning of the last century tell how cologne, confetti and whistles were available to adults and children to celebrate the end of the year.  While the bands played traditional songs in the streets, the cologne was sprayed by the young lovers towards the object of their desire (there were sprayers of various types, some even made of gold and silver by local artisans).  When the perfumed water ran out, the boys drew from the fountains to continue the game, which ended with the whole street wet and perfumed and the passers-by soaked but happy.  After the devastating earthquakes of 1953, the custom vanished, only to resume when the Lithostroto was paved and made pedestrian again (Source Maria Markatou-Alysandratou for gr)
  1. It’s time to give each other gifts
    In Greece it is not Santa Claus who brings gifts, but an equally good and compassionate figure who looks very much like him.  Agios Vasilis is one of the most important figures in the Orthodox liturgy and unlike Santa Claus, who shows up on December 24, he visits children on New Year’s Eve.  We had the pleasure to meet him just the afternoon of New Year’s Eve in the main streets of Argostoli with his sled and the elves to greet the children!
  1. Please chew carefully
    Vasilopita is an orange-scented cake prepared on New Year’s Day in honor of Agios Vassilis in which a coin is inserted.  When the cake is cut, a slice is kept for the saint and then the slices are distributed among family members, from the eldest to the youngest, as well as among the guests.  At our house, a slice is also dedicated to animals, an integral part of the family.  According to tradition, whoever finds the hidden coin will have a whole year of good luck… with us the coin always happens to be in the slices of the little ones, is it a coincidence?
  1. An amulet for the New Year
    Good luck charms (γούρια in Greek) are very popular at this time of year and it is common to receive them from loved ones as a good omen for the coming year.  Bracelets, pendants, ornaments… Among the favorite symbols there are pomegranates (emblems of prosperity) and eyes of Allah (protection from the evil eye) but the designs and materials of these charms may vary.  Whatever you choose, a γούρι is still a welcome testimony of love and protection for those who receive it.
Προηγούμενο άρθρο
Beginning of the Christmas season in Argostoli Square
Επόμενο άρθρο
The Disastrous Earthquake of 1953 in Kefalonia

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