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Athens, Greece - 6th January 2010

By: Dharma

The tradition and the story of the Vasilopitta as my friends told me

One of the most beautiful and inspiring traditions of the Orthodox Christian Church (Greeks are Orthodox Christians) is the observance of Vasilopitta The word Vasilopitta is a compound Greek word which means the sweet bread of St. Basil.
During the fourth century, one of the greatest Fathers of the Christian Church appeared on the spiritual horizon of the Orthodox Faith. His name was Basil and he was Bishop of Caesarea, Cappadocia (Asia Minor) during the fourth century. He was one of the three Cappadocian Fathers of the Church (the others were Gregory of Nazianzus, his best friend and his brother, Gregory of Nyssa.)
St. Basil was the first person in human history to establish an orphanage for little children. He also founded the first Christian hospital in the world. His fame as a Holy Man spread like wildfire throughout the Byzantine world. He was considered one of the wisest and compassionate clergymen in the entire history of the Church. His Feast Day is observed on January 1st , the beginning of the New Year and the Epiphany Season. For the Greeks, he is the saint who brings the gifts during Christmas.
According to tradition, special sweet bread is prepared in every house during New year‘s eve which is called Vasilopitta. Sweets are added to the bread which symbolize the sweetness and joy of life everlasting. It also symbolizes the hope that the New Year will be filled with the sweetness of life, liberty, health and happiness
When the Vasilopitta is prepared, a coin is usually added to the ingredients. When the bread is cut and the observance begins, the individual who receives that portion of the bread which contains the coin is considered lucky. This tradition adds joy to the celebration at the beginning of the New Year, which everyone hopes will bring joy to all. Since St. Basil loved the poor people, a special piece is cut for the unfortunate of the world which symbolizes our concern for the poverty-stricken people of all nations.
The history said that when Saint Basil was a bishop, Barbarians came to his city and asked all the money of the people. The citizens gave them to their bishop and he put them inside the church, waiting the leader of the barbarians to take them, praying. A strong rain came and a thunder killed the leader and most of his soldiers, the remaining ones were running away. So the cold of the city was saved. But nobody knew how much money or gold have given each of the citizens. So Saint Basil divided the money in equal portions and put it in small breads and each citizen took one bread which contained a potion of the treasure.  That’s why Greeks make this sweet bread every year. 


* Posted Jan 6, 2010, 11:29 pm Last edited Jan 6, 2010, 11:38 pm by Dharma [Quote] Go to the top of the page


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