Vasilopita Coin - Greek Orthodox Traditional Gold Plated
Greek Orthodox Traditional Custom of Vasilopita - the Lucky Coin for the New Year
For the New Year, the tradition holds that you bake a sweet bread and hide a coin in the bread. The "gold" coin - known as the flouri - is baked into the bread during its preparation. The individual who receives the slice containing the coin is said to be blessed with good luck in the New Year. It is named Vasilopita after Saint Basil, or Agios Vasilios in Greek. Vasilopita translates to Basil's Bread.
The story of the Greek Orthodox custom of the Vasilopita with the lucky coin inside, begins in Asia Minor in the city of Caesarea in Cappadocia, more than 1600 years ago. This was during the time when Basil the Great; who later became a Saint, was Bishop of Caesarea. Basil the Great implored the citizens of Caesarea to raise money to stop a siege. So much money was raised in the form of coins and jewelery, the siege of the opponent was called off. Basil the Great then wanted to return the donations to the citizens but did not know who gave what. In order to most fairly return the funds raised to the Caesareans, he baked the coins into bread and gave out the bread to the citizens.
St. Basil the Great was born at Caesarea of Cappadocia in 330. He was one of ten children of St. Basil the Elder and St. Emmelia. Several of his brothers and sisters are also honoured among the saints. He attended school in Caesarea, as well as Constantinople and Athens, where he became acquainted with St. Gregory Nazianzen in 352. Later, he opened a school of oratory in Caesarea and practiced law. Eventually he decided to become a monk and found a monastery in Pontus, which he directed for five years.
He wrote a famous monastic rule which has proved the most lasting of those in the East. After founding several other monasteries, he was ordained, and in 370 he was made Bishop of Caesarea. He served that post until his death in 379, while he continued to be a man of vast learning and constant activity, genuine eloquence and immense charity. This earned him the title of “Great” during his life. The Church sanctified him after his death.
Basil was one of the giants of the early Christian Church. He was responsible for the victory of Nicene orthodoxy over Arianism in the Byzantine East, and the denunciation of Arianism at the Council of Constantinople in 381-82, was in large measure due to his efforts. Basil fought simony, aided the victims of drought and famine, strove for a better clergy, insisted on a rigid clerical discipline, fearlessly denounced evil wherever he detected it, and excommunicated those involved in the widespread prostitution traffic in Cappadocia. He was learned, accomplished in statesmanship, a man of great personal holiness, and one of the great orators of Christianity. His feast day is January 1.