Proto-chronia or New Year's Day

The New Years Greeting just say: 'Ka-lee  Chron-yia'

'Proto-khronia' means literally, 'First of the year', or New Years Day. The traditional greeting, 'Kali Khronia!' (Have a Good year!) It is also the saints' day/feast day of Aghios Vassilios (St. Basil), the Greek equivalent of the western Santa Claus, about whom many carols ('kalanda') are sung by children who go from door to door (as at Christmas).

In past times, children would carry a toy boat with them, which was symbolically connected with the ships carried on wheels by the ancient Athenians, and which were meant to restore Dhionysos (Dionysius), the god of wine and feasting.

A large round loaf of bread is baked on this day known as the 'Vassilopita' ( literally, Vassilios' bread) with a coin inside it, said to bring good luck all year to its finder. The bread is customarily cut by the father when the family gathers around the dinner table, with the sign of the cross first made three times over the cake with the knife, and the cake then cut into pieces, each named for the recipients who are first, Khristos (Christ), next, Aghios Vassilios, then one to the house, the next to the poor, and then to successive family members, the elders first, then his own, followed by the wife's and children's (quite tidily summarizing the traditional Greek family hierarchy).

What follows is the search for the lucky hidden coin. The vassilopita can be baked at home by the wife or ordered from a bakery.

On New Year's Day, significance is traditionally attached to which person first crosses the threshold of the house, as it is that person said to bring luck all year to the household. Accordingly, pains are taken to see that the father or eldest son cross first, with the right foot first, and that he carry a miniature icon of a saint, and pomegranates might be smashed within the house, with the New Year's greeting uttered.

Other customs include the laying of the table with a large variety of dishes, as a way of expressing hope for abundance of food throughout the year, and the drinking of a glass of water by the wife during the first moment of the New Year, the glass having been placed beforehand next to jewelry or coins. Still another custom is that of leaving a plate of sweets and some water for Aghios Vassilios on New Year's Eve, since he is expected to visit during the night.