Friday 19 April 2024

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A coin hidden in a cake? What’s that all about?


Happy New Year dear friends!

I hope you had an extra special New Year’s Eve and welcomed 2018 in with a whoop and a cheer…and no doubt a glass or two of champagne! I did too and our Greek Cypriot celebrations continued on New Year’s Day!

I wanted to share with you a New Year’s Day tradition from Cyprus.

On New Year’s Day, and often on the 7th January which is the date for celebrating the birth of Christ in the Orthodox Christian calendar (our Christmas), families gather together to welcome the New Year. We do this by cutting a cake, usually baked at home, with a coin hidden inside it. This cake is called a vasilopita and tradition has it that the person who finds the coin in their piece of cake will have lots of luck, success and good fortune for the rest of the year. It’s a beautiful tradition and brings together the family on the 1st January.

In Greece the first piece is traditionally cut for Christ, the second for the home of the family and the rest for the family, beginning with the Father, Mother, children of the house. Many Cypriots cut the first piece for the youngest member of the family present at the gathering and cut each piece till the oldest member of the family – usually bapou or yiayia (grandfather or grandmother). It’s very exciting and often different members will try to pre-empt where the coin might be so they turn the cake round so the first piece is cut at a point where, hopefully, the cutting of their piece later will reveal the coin to them. I remember growing up this was just as an exciting family gathering as Christmas Day itself which we celebrated on the 25th December living in the UK. My own children, to this day, enjoy the cutting of the vasilopita.

There are a number of different recipes for making a vasilopita and many families pass down their recipes from generation to generation, some tweak the recipe along the way adding their own signature ingredient too. Some add brandy too!

I’ve included a simple recipe below which avoids weighing ingredients – it uses cups to measure everything.

Vasilopita Recipe

I wish all of you a very happy New Year, happy baking and good luck in finding the coin! Much love to you all and I look forward to sharing some more Greek Cypriot recipes and traditions with you throughout the year. (Featured image my best friend’s cake!!!)

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