Greek New Year Customs


Greece is full of wonderful traditions, and customs that exist for thousands of years. On New Year’s Eve, some customs are observed in many countries around the world, but some customs are found only in our country.

In most countries around the world, Santa Claus delivers his gifts on Christmas Eve. In Greece, we have Saint Basil who waits a few days and makes his delivery on New Year’s Eve.


In the Cycladic islands, it is considered a good omen to have north winds on New Year’s Day. If a pigeon lands in the yard that day, it brings good luck. However, if a crow flies over the house in a straight line, then that’s a bad omen.


The “Babaria” is revived in Florina. These are men disguised in lamb costumes and masks, trying to deliver the bride to the groom. The custom celebrates the awakening of the earth.

Pomegranate New Year Tradition

Pomegranate New Year Tradition Photo Credit: RitaE


In Crete, the wild onion that grows on the island looks like a big onion. It is poisonous and causes a skin rash. If you uproot it, it will continue to grow with new leaves and flowers. For the people of Crete, this rare quality means great natural strength and so they hang wild onions in their homes on New Year’s Day.

The pomegranate is a symbol of abundance, fertility, and good luck and that is why in many areas of Greece it hangs on the door until the New Year. On New Year’s Eve, the family breaks the pomegranate at the door shouting “Happy New Year”.


In Thassos, there is a very special and old custom. The families sit around the lit fireplace and throw olive leaves on the burning coals. As they drop the olive leaves, they make a wish without being heard by others. The wish of the one who turns the card the most is fulfilled.

Holiday Feast - pork - roast

Holiday Feast Photo Credit: Rumman Amin


In Kavala, there is a New Year’s custom that comes from the years of Ottoman rule. The boys who are going to leave as soldiers, gather wood in the square, and on New Year’s Eve light a big fire singing carols. As soon as the clock strikes exactly twelve, the party begins with food, tsipouro, and sweets.


In Samos, apart from the royal pie, the “proventa” is also made. This is a dish full of sweets that shows how housewife every woman is.

An old custom that has disappeared

There is an old custom that is no longer common. Nevertheless, many decades ago many families followed it. This is the slaughter of a pig. Each family raised a pig in the yard of their house to slaughter it on New Year’s Eve. The butcher with the help of the men of the family slaughtered the pig while the housewife was boiling water in a cauldron. The housewife pulled out her hair in boiling water and immediately afterward the men divided the pig into pieces. They cleaned the bladder, inflated it and gave it to the children to play with. Then they chopped pieces of meat, put them in wine for 8 days, and filled the pigs’ intestines with them. So, they made sausages that they ate all year round.

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