As usual there are a bunch of traditions, most of which we still observe. They're all to bring good luck in the coming year. This are what we do in our family and local area. They differ all over the country.
1. Breaking a pomegranite at the front door. If we can find a pomegranite at this time of the year. We break ours at our front gate so the seeds and mess are outside on the road. Our daughter breaks hers at the front door. Nice mess to clean up on New Years morning.
2. Vasilopita. A St Basil's cake or a loaf of bread with a lucky coin. We have a cake on New Years Eve, bread at New Years lunch and then another family cake later on. These cakes or sweet breads are cut at every school, club and work place and the actual ceremony of cutting the cake and handing it around might not take place till February.
The lucky coin used to be put under the icons on the wall and used to buy incense. Probably still is in small villages. That died out in our family when m-in-law passed away.
The first slice of cake is for the Virgin Mary, the second for the house and land or the crops, the next for the oldest in the family and so on down the line. Everyone digs through their slice looking for the lucky coin and if we haven't found it by the time we've got through all the family members then we'll cut a piece for distant relatives too, or the dog.
3. Playing cards, making bets and buying a lottery ticket. Lucky games are fine, as long as you win! We all played cards around Yiayias big kitchen table with the kids. She had a bulging purse with low value coins with which we all placed bets . Usually it was the card game '21'.
Meanwhile down the road on an empty plot serious bet-ters would gather to throw coins, heads or tails, and huge amounts of money were won or lost. Men would gather from all over the island. I think that tradition has died out too, in that place anyway. We usually buy a national lottery ticket just before New Year. We're still waiting for a win.
One year down in Crete we played Gin Rummy with Navy friends till dawn. It was the only time I ever won. The money wasn't much but the thrill was .
4. Fireworks? With a big question mark. They have been banned this year so crowds don't gather but I can't see why our Mayor doesn't give us a show. They are set off from one of the car ferries in the bay and we all 'oooh and ahhh' from our balconies. He hasn't put on a show for several years.
Church bells used to peal joyously at midnight, and boats blasted their hooters but we haven't heard either in the last two years. Last year it was quiet and dark in our old neighbourhood where we go to our daughter's to see in the New Year. The only celebrations were on TV and from young Jamie who entered the house with an old key and banged us all on the head.
5. First Footing. Just before midnight the luckiest in the family goes outside and is the first person to enter the house bringing luck for the New Year, right foot first. It's usually the youngest. And he/she is armed with that big key though why he has to bang us all on the head I'm not sure.
6. New Years carolling. Once again on New Years eve the kids go from house to house singing the one traditional carol. As at Xmas they bring good luck to the house and expect a small coin in return or a much larger amount if they are kin or close neighbours or friends.
Happy New Year