Tuesday, January 2, 2024

A tap of the heart, a brush of a kiss

Walking into the village on a sunny winter's day is always pleasurable, but especially so on the first day of January. 

A leisurely stroll into town is how we've marked the first day of the new year since moving to this rural slice of the Greek Peloponnese a few years ago. Actually, we walk into the village quite often, but what makes this particular stroll extra special is exchanging greetings with so many of our friends and acquaintances; all of whom are also out enjoying the holiday.

Kali Kronia reads the sign at the church door

'Kali Chronia. . . Chronia Polla!' we call out in both greeting or in response to those who've called out to us. 'Good year. . .many years' is the rough translation of this multipurpose wish, also used at birthday sand other holidays.  

Chronia Polla in Greek

Often times it is accompanied by a tap to the heart with the right hand, and a slight nod of the head when offered by an acquaintance. Friends offer a brush of a kiss to each of us, first the right cheek, then the left. Shaking hands while greeting each other is frequent. Waiters often offer New Year's greetings and reach out to shake our hands as a prelude to taking our order.  And between special friends, the greeting may be offered with a full-blown hug and kiss.

Greeting the New Year in the village beside the harbor

Once in town we found chairs in the village kafenios and tavernas were filled as friends and families gathered to indulge in a bit of gly-KO, as sweets are called here, and of course, a slowly sipped coffee. 

New Year's Day tradition: coffee and cake

In between greeting friends who passed our table, we sipped cappuccinos and munched on slices of vasilipitos, the traditional New Year's cake, baked with a lucky coin inside. The person getting that coin in their piece is promised good luck in the coming year. Although we didn't get the piece with the coin, we still felt pretty lucky to be savoring the first few hours of the new year in this adopted home of ours on the Messinian Gulf.

Saint Vasilis Day, January 1st

The cake is named for St. Vasilis. While January 1st marks the start of a new year here, it is also Saint Vasilis Day. He is the one who brings gifts to the good little boys and girls, much like Santa does on Christmas in our other world. It is the Name Day for those named after him, and Name Days here are very special occasions.

Steps to the sea in Agios Nikolaos

The sun, Helios, was shining brightly and brought mid-day temperatures to 67F, or 19,4C.

Agios Nikolaos village, Peloponnese

New Years marks a time of reflection as well as anticipation for us. We are grateful to you who have continued to join us on our adventures as expats and travelers via this blog of ours. We welcome those of you who are new to the blog. We look forward to hearing of your future adventures and having you continue sharing in ours.

 We send our good wishes to you all for a healthy and happy. . .

(Photo: Kalamata city square)

. . .as well as our wishes for continued safe travels to you and your families ~ our best to each of you!


  1. Happy New Year! Sending you both my best wishes for continued good health and wonderful adventures. And keep on writing - I love your posts.

  2. Happy New Year! That cake looks absolutely delicious :-). Here's to good health and more travels in the new year.


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