Vasilopita literally means St. Basil’s Cake, which contains a hidden coin baked inside. This “New Year’s Cake” is a highly esteemed Orthodox tradition worldwide, having its origins in the 4th century.
Of the many Christian traditions, Orthodox faithful around the world have maintained the very significant, ritual cutting of the St. Basil’s Vasilopita Cake, every year for the past 1,600 years! As sure as Turkey on Thanksgiving in the USA, Orthodox families worldwide, look forward to this wonderful annual tradition, celebrated on the first day of each New Year.
Around the table, all family members will gather in an atmosphere of joy and anticipation, of who will find the Golden Vasilopita Coin as the Cake is methodically served in individual slices. The head of the family will cut the first slice for Jesus Christ, second for the Virgin Mary, the third for St. Basil, the fourth for the poor, then one slice for each member of the family from the eldest to the youngest. Slowly piece by piece serves to heighten the excitement of who will find the coin which it contains. The one who finds the coin in their slice, will enjoy good luck for the upcoming year, but more importantly, will have a memory and keepsake to last their lifetime.
The origin of the Vasilopita custom comes from many versions of the same story. St. Basil the Great, then an Archbishop in Cappadocia, now modern-day Israel, was faced with the task of returning gold coins which were improperly taxed. The task at hand was how to return the people’s wealth without disrespecting them. His solution was to bake and distribute Cakes with a hidden gold coin in each loaf.
Since then, the custom of cutting Vasilopita has been consecrated. The belief that the Golden Vasilopita Coin will bring luck and good fortune for the upcoming year is preserved to this very day. One must always remember that this is truly a highlight of family unity, fond memories, and something tangible to carry for a lifetime.
But what to do with leftover Cake? Try toasting it with butter for a spectacular taste treat.
For more information on Vasilopita and its customs, including Coins, Story and Pie Recipe, visitors can check the following link: http://vasilopita.com/