Breaking the pomegranate is a custom from Peloponnese.
In the morning of the New Year, the family went to church and the landlord kept in his pocket a pomegranate.
Upon returning home he had to hit the doorbell – he was not allowed to open with his own key - and thus he was the first to enter the house with pomegranate in his hand.
He had to enter the house with his right foot and tossing it with power he broke the pomegranate behind the door and while the berries were scattered everywhere he said:
"With health, happiness and joy the New Year and as many berries has the pomegranate so many money to be in our pocket all year".
Τhe children usually were gathered around observing the berries and if they were crispy, deep red, strong and beautiful it meant that the days the New Year would bring along would be both happy and blessed.
Colognes a custom from Kefalonia island.
At New Year's Eve Kefallonites searched fields for agiovasilitses or askynokares -as they say this strange bulb known as the skylokremmydo or simply Kremmyda, urginea maritime, which they hung at their homes.
At the eve of New Year the island’s residents with laughter and joy for the coming of the new year walked down the streets holding bottles of cologne and pouring some to each other so that the new year would find everybody happy and full of aromas while wishing to each other singing:
"We came with roses and blossoms to wish you a long living" while the last wish of the year was:"Good Cut" i.e. good for us to part with the old year.
"Again you heard lords again we say to you,
that tomorrow there is a need to rejoice
and to celebrate the circumcision of our Lord,
the feast of Makaros Basil the Great."
The custom of the first to enter the house is an age-old custom with symbolic significance which is maintained for many years.
The first person to step his foot in the house after the entrance of the new year should be lucky in order to bring his luck to the house he is entering.
People used to believed and still do that if a lucky man would enter their house at the change of the year and wished them all the best all the New Year would be great and the family would have health, happiness, love, money and abundance.
Sometimes they went so far as to create their own good luck by choosing from the previous day somebody of their own people to come immediately after the change of the year and enter their house first. They usually preferred a small child, a boy if they had many girls, a girl if they had many boys.
As just as the first visitor of the New Year entered the house with his right foot, they put an iron for him to step on so that all the family would be healthy and strong during the New Year and the housewife would offer him apples or nuts and a spoonful of any kind of fruit sweet.
This custom is very old.
It existed at the ancient Greeks, Romans and the Jews.
The Byzantines called the lucky people "kalopodes", which means the ones that have a lucky foot.
In rural areas of our country the “podarikon”-lucky foot was associated with good harvest and fruitfulness of the earth.
In some villages the “kalopodaros” scattered rice so that good would make roots.
Except from Greece this habit also occurs in European countries, such as England.
Another custom -which doesn’t occur nowadays- was to transfer water from the fountain of the village at home from the landlord of the house while making the wish:
"As this water runs good to run at my home"
If now at the day of the New Year there was a sunshine they believed that the weather would be the same for the next forty days.
"Mother bear put out under the sun her baby bears, we will not have a heavy winter" they used to say.
If the weather was bad in the New Year day the next forty days they would have a heavy winter.
Another well known custom was the stone of the New Year.
At the change of time the head of the house would bring a well-formed stone in the house saying:
"As solid is the stone so strong to be my house”
It is a Greek tradition for the New Year to hang an "Onion" (Kremmyda) in front of the entrance door and keep it there all the year for protection, good luck and health.
This is an ancient custom of good luck and health with roots in 6th century B.C
It is told that Pythagoras hanged an onion in front of his door for the same reasons.
All the ancient writers mentioned it as a magic plant, connected with fertility and good health
In Arcadia they used it in Panas' celebrations. The Kremmyda, even when it comes from the earth, continues to have new leaves and flowers for that reason people believe that this great vital force of the onion is transmited to the animate and inanimate
Hang it but do not eat it, this "onion" is poisoned and its scientific name is Scilla maritima or urginea maritima.
We wish a very Happy new Year!
Usually it is argued that Carols date back to the Byzantine era. But there are also folklorists who find their origin in ancient Athens, where a similar custom prevailed. During the celebrations of Pyanepsion and Thargilion, where sacrifices were offered to the god Sun, children used to wander in the streets of Athens. The requirement to participate in this celebration was that both parents were in life. Outside every house children said several songs that were composed especially for the occasion while hanging on the door of the house an olive branch with some green fruit.
Children, like in modern carols, were paid by the landlord of the house. This custom and the song were called by the Athenians Iresioni. Many believe that from this Athenian festive event originates a similar custom of the Romans (calendae) which was transferred, retaining its name, in Byzantium. Moreover, in many Greek regions the month of January was also called calendar, because of the Byzantine Calendi that were sung on the eve of St. Basil.
However, carols or Calendi, as they were called in Byzantium, in Constantinoupolis, were not just songs. It was a glamorous celebration. Young and older were divided into groups and were going around houses and sang songs of praise or satirical ones about the house’s landlord, receiving the appropriate tip. It seems though that the custom did not enjoy the approval of the official Church and many Patriarchs forbade the believers. The Byzantine chronicler John Tzetzes, who lived in the 12th century, called those who sang carols tramps! From Constantinoupolis they came to the rest of Greece, where they spread through the country and acquired various local variations. The linguistic expression followed the evolution of the Greek language.
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Photograph taken during William Lewis Sachtleben's stay in Athens before embarking on a bicycle journey across Asia with Thomas Gaskell Allen Jr. [Note]
The spring of Kallirhoe is probably the spring described in the 1894 Baedeker guide (pg. 51): "To the S. of the Olympieion runs the bed of the Ilissos (p. 49), with the remains of a wharf or quay. The polished surface of a ridge of rock that crosses the stream here also seems to betray the action of water at a former period. To the S. is the Chapel of St. Photini, a visit to which is amply repaid by the fine view of the Acropolis and the Olympieion. Below, on the margin of the Ilissos, the spring of Kallirhoë (Pl. F, 8) issues from the rock and is still called Kallirói ('pleasantly flowing'). Narrow channels in the rock originally supplied it more abundantly with water." [Note]
View of William Sachtleben seated on the rocky bank of the Ilissos (Ilissus) River near the spring Kallirrhóē, with his bicycle beside him