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December 30

Saint of the day:

Saint Anysia  

the Righteous Virgin Martyr of Thessaloniki


Saint Anysia

"The Holy Virgin Martyr Anysia lived in the city of Thessalonica during the reign of the emperor Maximian (284-305). Upon the death of her parents, who had raised her in Christian piety, St Anysia sold everything she owned, distributing her riches to the poor, and she began to lead a strict life of fasting, vigil, and prayer.


[Fervent in her love for Christ, she often said: ``Oh, how false is the life of youth, for you either scandalize or are scandalized. Better is old age; but sorrow overcomes me because of the length of time that separates me from heaven.''...When sleep overcame her she would say to herself: ``It is dangerous to sleep while my enemy keeps vigil.''


During his persecution against Christians, Maximian issued an edict stating that anyone had the right to kill Christians with no fear of punishment. Soon there were many bodies to be found in cities, towns, and by the roadside. Once, when St Anysia was on her way to church, a pagan soldier stopped her and demanded that she come along to the festival of the sun to offer sacrifice. St Anysia gently pulled herself away from him. When he soldier boldly grabbed her and attempted to tear the veil from her head, she shoved him, spit in his face and said, "My Lord Jesus Christ forbids you!"


In anger, the soldier ran her through with his sword. Those gathering over her body wept and loudly complained against the cruel emperor for issuing an edict that resulted in the death of many innocent people. Christians buried the martyr near the city gates, and a chapel was built over her grave."

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Basilica of Saint Demetrios,

Thessaloniki, Greece




Traditional Greek Orange Cake with Syrup
At this time of year oranges are a symbol of luck and prosperity! Happy New Years Eve Eve!


For the Portokalopita

  • 200g yogurt (2% fat) (7 ounces)

  • 300 ml vegetable oil (1 and 1/4 of a cup)

  • 300 ml sugar (1 and 1/4 of a cup)

  • 300ml orange juice ( 1 and 1/4 of a cup)

  • 20g baking powder (4 tsps)

  • zest of 1 1/2 orange

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 440–450g phyllo dough (15 ounces)

  • 4 medium sized eggs

For the syrup

  • 400ml water (1 and 2/3 of a cup)

  • 400ml sugar (1 and 2/3 of a cup)

  • zest of 1 orange

  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)



  1. Unwrap the phyllo dough from the plastic sleeve; place the sheets on a large surface and leave at room temperature for 20 minutes, in order to dry well. Alternatively, spread a few on a large baking tray and bake at 100C/200F, until dry; repeat with the rest.

  2. To prepare this Greek orange cake, start first by preparing the syrup. Pour into a pot the water, the sugar, the orange zest and a cinammon stick and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup has thickened. Set aside to cool.

  3. In the meantime prepare the mixture for the orange cake. Pour the vegetable oil into a large bowl, add the sugar and the eggs and whisk. Add the yogurt, the orange juice, the orange zest and the vanilla extract and whisk well, until the ingredients combine and the mixture is smooth. Add the baking powder, and whisk lightly.

  4. Crumble the phyllo into small pieces using your hands. Add them gradually into the mixture while whisking so they don’t stick to each other.

  5. Using a cooking brush, oil the bottom and the sides of a baking tray (approx.20x30cm / 8×12 inch) and pour in the mixture. Bake in preheated oven at 180C/350F for 40-50 minutes until, nicely colored and cooked through. Check if it is ready, by poking a hole with a knife. If the knife comes out clean, then the cake is ready.

  6. To finish the orange cake, ladle slowly the cold syrup over the hot cake. Allow each ladle of syrup to be absorbed, before ladling again.

  7. Allow time for the syrup to be absorbed and put in the refrigerator. Greek orange cake is ideally served cold, not hot, so that it does not crumble. Enjoy with a big spoonful of ice cream!

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