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stbasilMy first New Year in Crete, got really drunk, went to my bed and got up on New Year's day with a terrible hangover!!!!!!! My excuse is I'm Scottish!!!!!!

Happy New Year in Greek is - kainourios xronos

A Bank Holiday in Greece. The day of Saint Basil or Agios Vassilis, also known in Greece as Father Christmas.

After Christmas, the children impatiently await the New Year (Protochronia) because that's when St. Basil (Agios Vasilios) delivers their gifts.

In Greece it is the custom to exchange gifts on the New Year instead of Christmas. The presents are delivered by St. Basil, who is the same as the Santa Claus of the western world.

The 'Podariko'

First footing. It's considered to be lucky for a child to be the first person to step over your doorstep on New Years Day. The tradition is to bring a plant called the 'skylokremmyda' (which has thick green leaves and a bulb) which is left on the doorstep, and the child should step into the house right foot first. The child is then given a gift of money for the New Year.

Vassilopita

VassilopitaSt Basil's Cake/ New Year's cake.The vassilopita is a simple sponge cake and is baked in nearly every household at New Year. A coin wrapped in foil (flouri) is placed in the cake before it's baked. The cake is ceremoniously cut by the head of the household and whoever gets the slice containing the flouri is said to have good luck for all of the forthcoming year.

 

Gambling

Traditionally Greeks spend the days during Christmas and New Year gambling. New Year's Eve is the main gambling time - after seeing in the New Year many will try out their luck until well into the early hours. Even houses and cars have been lost over a card game or the throw of the zaria (dice)! In all the cafeneons across the land around Christmas you will find the men sitting around card tables. It is actually illegal to gamble in unlicensed places but this doesn't stop the owners or the customers! The cafeneon owners actually charge for the tables by the hour and will go around collecting a few Euros off each player every hour. The most popular card games are 21 (similar to black jack, but with a kitty in the middle), 31 (similar to black jack but each player tries to get 31 instead of 21, and 'thanasi' (like rummy).Zaria' or dice is played with two dice by 2 players in turn and there are set winning and losing combinations (win 6 and 6, 6 and 5, lose 1 and 1, 1 and 3 etc.). Betting takes place before the throw of the dice and there is also side betting around the table .

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