St. Basil and Santa Claus


Santa Claus in Greece is not the same person; according to the Greek tradition, the equivalent of the Western Santa Claus is Agios Vasiis or Vasilios or St Basil, who comes from Caesarea in Asia Minor.  His story is quite similar to the one of St Nicholas; he was a kind-hearted and helpful man, who was aiding the poor and needy ones while he was bishop in Caesarea. According to the Greek tradition, St. Basil brought practical aid to the poor, so he was considered as someone who brings “gifts”.

Agios Vassilios was far from chubby though; he was a tall, thin man with a black beard and black penetrating eyes. He died on January 1st 379 AD. and the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates his memory on January 1st. This is why most presents are given on New Year’s Eve and not Christmas, although modern families give something on both days.
This is also why the main sweet of New Year in Greece bears his name, Vasilopita. 
Today, is also my husband’s name day. We have many reasons to celebrate these past two weeks: Christmas, New Years, St. Vasilis, and on January 3rd is our 1 year anniversary. Instead of exchanging gifts, we are taking a small holiday to the island just south of us, Chios. I plan to take lots of pictures and will eagerly share with you when we return. We also hope you will remember us on Monday and “yia mas” drink to our health and happiness!
Preparation of heart is unlearning the prejudices of evil converse. It is the smoothing the waxen tablet before attempting to write on it. ”    St. Basil the Great

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