The history of new year cake or why we make new year cakes

Below we will explain the history of the Vasilopita, a history that begins hundreds of years ago, 1,500 years ago roughly, in the city Caesarea of Kappadokia, in Asia Minor (western Turkey today).

The Great King was Despot of Caesarea and lived harmoniously with his fellow men, with love, understanding and mutual help.

One day however, a hungry general-tyrant of the region asked him for all the treasures of the city of Caesarea, threatening that otherwise he would besiege the city to conquer and plunder it. Throughout the entire night the Great King prayed for God to save the city. At dawn the general decided to encircle Caesarea.

He entered with his army and asked to see the Despot, who was found in the temple praying. With audacity and anger the unscrupulous general demanded the gathering of the gold of the city as well as other precious items that existed.

The Great King answered that the people of his city did not have anything other than hunger and that they did not have anything to give to the general. But the general upon hearing the message demanded even more and threatened the king.

The Christians of Caesarea loved their Despot and wanted to help him. They therefore gathered from their houses whatever gold they had and offered it to him. The general was furious and ordered his soldiers to attack the city.

The Great King gathered all the gold that was offered by the citizens and presented them to the general in order to save his city from a massacre. However, the moment the general opened the treasures a miracle occurred.

All assembled saw a bright burst of light followed by a brilliant rider dashing above the general and his army. Within a short time, the general and his army disappeared. The rider was Aghios Merkourios [Saint Merkourios] and the soldiers were his angels. Thus the city of Caesarea was saved. Then, however, the despot found himself in a difficult position!

How was he to share the gold with the residents of the city and distribute it fairly? It was a very difficult task indeed. After praying, the Great King was given divine guidance and he called on his aides to bake small loaves of bread and place some gold coins inside each one of them. The surprise for the residents came when they were distributed the bread and they found gold coins inside for them to keep.

This later turned into a New Year celebration which we still find today, with each Greek family cutting the Vasilopita cake which contains a coin and which will bring luck to the person who finds it.