Usually the coming of the New Year is a time of optimism, a time of wishes and resolutions, a time to get rid of the old and start anew.
Yet, for most Greeks 2017 looks like a year that shouldn’t exist. As of January 1st, they will have to pay new and exorbitant taxes, see basic goods and services go up in price, see their wages and pensions shrink, watch Turkey challenge the sovereignty of Greek territories and watch helplessly as migrants flood the country.
Opinion polls show that almost nine out of ten Greek citizens believe that the country is moving in the wrong direction. They state their fears to television reporters, or in comments they write in news websites.
So what Greeks want 2017 to bring is not gifts and luxuries, but basic things that citizens of a Western World nation take for granted. Television reports show people, young and old, wish that the new year would bring simple things. They want Santa Claus to bring them jobs, lower taxes, higher wages and pensions, basic health care, education for their kids.
It is true that the majority of Greek people lived beyond their means in the period of forged affluence, from the early 1990s until the economic crisis hit hard in 2009. But going from that to the point when one in three Greeks has reached poverty level is too harsh.
So for 2017, one in three Greeks makes the simple wish to leave the statistical line of poverty. The young — with half of them being unemployed and most of the other half working for pittance wages — wish they find a job. The ones with degrees wish for a job where they can offer their services in the field they studied. Others for just any job because their debt-ridden parents cannot support them.
Those who work and see their wages evaporate in taxes and security contributions ask for lower taxes and ask to see some benefits in return for their generous contribution to state revenues.
As for pensioners, who amount to 2.7 million with another 300,000 in line, they wish the new year would bring them the money that was taken from them and they so rightly deserve after decades of work.
Then, there are the romantic, optimistic Greeks who express the wish that politicians start caring for them and stop lying. But that is like asking Santa Claus to bring you a Lear Jet or a luxury villa on Mykonos.