New Year’s Day may be the only holiday which is celebrated with pomp and circumstance across the globe. Each country has its own traditions for this day. Each region of Greece has unique traditions along with different beliefs and customs. However, despite the variety of customs, the common aim is for everyone to have a prosperous new year.
One of the strangest (at least for the non-Greeks) traditions is to break a pomegranate on New Years. The pomegranate in different cultures symbolizes fertility, abundance and good luck. The purpose of the custom is to bring good luck to the people who live in the house. According to the tradition, the head of the family attends the church with the pomegranate in his pocket. Upon his return home he is not supposed to open the door with his own key, but must knock instead. When the family opens the door, he breaks the pomegranate. The children then, gather ’round to see if the seeds are red and whole or if they are broken. The luck of the new year depends on how the condition of the seeds.
In the Ionian islands, and specifically in Cephalonia, people used to throw scented water at each other in the central square of the town. On the same Ionian island, residents take a little trip to the country for the last three days of the year, in order to pick agiovasilitses, a flower that it is named after Agios Basilios.
Until now, the most unusual custom is the “open tap” custom. The idea of this, is after the year changes, the tap should be left running for a few minutes which symbolizes wealth and abundance.
Finally, Cyclades also bears a strange custom. People observe the weather conditions on New Year’s Day, and if they a pigeon appears in their yards, it is a good omen for the new year.