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January 2


Saint of the day:
Saint Basil the Great

On the 9th Day of Christmas....
Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit-----
Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience [Forbearance], Goodness [Kindness], Mildness, Fidelity, Modesty, Continency [Chastity]

St. Basil's Story

St. Basil was a very close friend of St. Gregoryn the Bishop of Nazianzus - Constantinople. Together they wrote an outstanding works.

The Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great is the one most commonly used year around in the Coptic Church. The Basilian Liturgy drew heavily from that of St. Mark the Evangelist. The Basilian Liturgy is addressed to God the Father.

Orthodox Christians recognize January 1 as St. Basil's Day. St. Basil (c. 329-379) was born in central Turkey and became famous for his intellectual brilliance, his care of the poor, and the rules he wrote to govern monastic life. Greeks celebrate St. Basil's Day with gift giving, carol singing, a special kind of bread, and a number of customs designed to attract good luck for the coming year.

On New Year's Day families gather together to share a loaf of vasiló-pita, "St Basil's bread." (Some families eat the vasilópita after midnight on New Year's Eve.) Bakers insert a coin into this sweet, braided bread (or cake, in some regions of Greece). Whoever gets the coin in their slice of bread will have good luck in the coming year. The bread is often distributed in a ceremonial way. The head of the household makes the sign of the cross over the bread and cuts the first slice, which is "for Christ." The second and third pieces are offered to St. Basil and the Virgin Mary. The next piece goes to the head of the household, and the remaining slices go to the rest of the household, with the eldest receiving theirs first and the youngest last. Some families also designate slices "for the house" and "for the poor." In rural areas farm animals, too, may be included in this custom.

Traditionally Greek families open their holiday gifts on St. Basil's Day. Indeed, St. Basil, who visits Greek homes on New Year's Eve, is the traditional Christmas season gift bringer. In some places families left out little offerings of special foods - such as a glass of water and pomegranates, sweets, vasilópita, fish, or jellied pork pie - during the night for the saint to refresh himself. In recent years foreign influence has led some people to exchange presents on Christmas Day rather than on St. Basil's Day.

Over the years plenty of superstitions and folk charms have attached themselves to New Year's Day. People still observe some of them for fun. As one's activities on New Year's Day are thought to predict one's preoccupations in the coming year, people try to avoid arguing, sobbing, or losing anything on this day. They seek out happy news and avoid thinking about sad things. Some eat sweets as a means of insuring they will have a "sweet" new year. Some people put on new clothes as a charm guaranteeing that they will be well groomed all year long. When dinnertime comes, tables are set with plenty of food, insuring that the family will enjoy abundant provisions in the months ahead.

Events that take place on St. Basil's Day are thought to set the tone for the entire year. According to Greek folklore, a household's luck in the coming year depends on who enters first. This person symbolizes the household's fortunes in the year to come. Many families hope that a strong, healthy person will be the first to cross their threshold after the stroke of midnight. In this case, the family would be blessed with good health. Others prefer to have an icon (a religious image) enter first, held in someone's outstretched arms. This is thought to confer spiritual blessings. Tradition encourages householders to welcome the first person to enter the house in the new year with coins and sweets. Some people insist that the person must cross the threshold with his or her right foot in order to bring good luck.

Because the events on St. Basil's Day are so important, a number of superstitions advise people to think happy thoughts, to avoid crying and quarreling, and to eat abundantly. Wearing new clothes will help to insure a good wardrobe in the year to come.

Holy Hierarchs St, Basil the Great, St.Gregory the Theologian

and St. John Chrysostom





The Tomb of St. Basil at Saint Basil's Cathedral in the Red Square in Moscow, Russia




Vasilopita Bread


  • 2 packages active dry yeast

  • 2 cups milk, warmed

  • ¾ cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 7 to 7½ cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 4 plus 1 eggs, lightly beaten

  • zest of one large orange

  • sesame seeds



  1. Dissolve yeast in one cup of warmed milk with one teaspoon sugar. Cover and allow to double in volume for about 20 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, mix 7 cups of flour, salt, and ¾ cups sugar in large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center. When the yeast has finished doubling, add to flour mixture, as well as butter, 4 eggs, the rest of the milk, and orange zest.

  3. Mix until dough is smooth.

  4. Knead on floured surface for 10-15 minutes and place in a buttered or oiled bowl, turning once to coat the top. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 2-3 hours, or until doubled in size.

  5. Punch dough down and divide into two. Knead each for a few minutes and place in two buttered 9-inch pans. Allow to rise until doubled in size for about one hour in a warm place.

  6. Using a sharp knife, carve decorative patterns into the top of each loaf, such as with lines radiating out from the center. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of each loaf with the remaining beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

  7. Bake at 375F for 10 minutes, turn the temperature down to 350F and bake for another 30 minutes or until the tops of each loaf turn a deep chestnut brown.

  8. Allow to cool on racks. At this point, you can insert a coin into the bottom of the loaf using a toothpick or skinny knife to push it in.

Vasilopita Cake


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 3 extra-large eggs

  • Grated rind of 2 large oranges

  • Grated rind of 2 large lemons

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed/powdered sour cherry pits (Arabic mahleb, Greek makhlepi)

  • 2 teaspoons crushed/powdered gum mastic (Arabic miski, Greek mastikha)

  • 4 cups flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1 egg yolk blended with 1 tablespoon milk

  • sesame seeds

  • blanched almonds

  • a clean coin - a quarter will do nicely - wrapped in silver or gold foil



  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Thickly butter a 10-inch round spring form pan.

  2. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the sugar and beat until the mixture is light. Beat in the eggs, one a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the orange and lemon rinds, and the crushed/powdered sour cherry pits and gum mastic.

  3. In a separate bowl, sift together three cups of the flour, the baking powder and salt.

  4. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the dry mixture alternately with the milk. The batter will be very thick. Using a wooden spoon, gradually blend in the remaining flour, beating well until completely smooth.

  5. Spread the batter into the pan, press the coin into the dough until it is completely covered (don't let anyone see where you place it!), and then smooth the top. Brush the top evenly with the egg and milk mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Gently press the blanched almonds into the top to make a Cross and spell out the date of the new year.

  6. Bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown (if it browns too quickly, cover the top with aluminum foil). Cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing from spring form and thoroughly cool before slicing.



A note from my Yaya Linda Nikolopoulos
This day is very important for the Greek community,
In Pensacola, FL the bread is blessed and auctioned off after church to support St. Basil's Academy which helps children in need. 



Songs of the season:

Joy to the World!

Do You Hear What I Hear!

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