New Year's Day is quickly approaching and Greeks are still in a festivity frenzy!
The holidays aren't over just yet (we have another big holiday after the New Year's, coming on the 6th of January the Theofania (Epiphany). There's no work on that day and all the stores are closed as well. I will be making a post about it).
The pie you see in the photo is called Vasilopita which means St. Basil's pie. It's a traditional New Year's pie that every household bakes for this day and it's the first thing we eat when the year changes at midnight, so that everything will be sweet in the new year. Inside the pie there's a coin hidden. At midnight when the year changes the father or grandfather using a knife symbolically carves a cross over the pie 3 times before slicing it. Every slice is dedicated or called for a specific person.
The first slice belongs to Christ, the second slice to
the Virgin Mary, the third slice to St. Vasilios, the fourth slice goes to the poor and thereafter every slice goes from the oldest to the youngest in the family and guests present. The last piece just belongs to the house. Whoever finds the coin in his/her slice is considered to be the lucky one of the year. If the coin is in one of the first four slices then it is offered to the church or someone who is poor.
It is said that St. Vasilios (St. Basil) was a well-educated and wealthy man who gave all his fortune to help the poor and needy people. One story says that in order to help out the poor without insulting them or embarrassing them he devised this trick of making little pies and hiding a coin in them before offering them the pies. In time this little pie was named after him and was an offering of joy and blessings.
Also, we celebrate St.Vasilios on the 1st of January and everybody named Vasilios or Vasiliki (the female version) celebrate as well, receiving gifts and wishes just like a birthday! (read post about Name Days)
Check out my Vasilopita recipe!
1 cup butter softened
2 cups sugar
500 gr (appr. 6 cups) all- purpose flour
4-5 tsp baking powder
orange juice from 2 oranges (appr. 1/2 glass)
2 tsps vanilla extract
1 finely chopped apple
1/2 cup Cognac (Metaxa) or Brandy
1 1/2 tbs orange zest
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cinnamon stick
Marinate from the night before in a bowl the cognac, the orange zest, the orange juice, the walnuts, the apple and 1 cinnamon stick.
The next day, in a large bowl blend (beat) the sugar with butter until it becomes fluffy white. Then add the eggs one by one. Add slowly the marinated mixture (after removing the cinnamon stick) and the flour sifted together with the baking powder, the vanilla extract and gradually the milk. Beat for another 2-3 minutes. Pour the batter into a greased and flour sprinkled round pan. Bake in pre-heated oven (325 degrees F or 165 degrees C) for about 70 minutes or until done. After it's baked place the coin (that you have previously wrapped in foil) anywhere you choose in a vertical position and a little deep. Then flip the pie/cake upside down on a platter (do that with the help of the platter) and after it has cooled down sprinkle it with powdered sugar. Your vasilopita is ready!
P.S. Placing the coin in the batter before it's baked will result in the coin sinking to the bottom (which will be later the top) and showing!
Photos are courtesy of Google images.