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Society

Greek Cities Take Initiatives in Welcoming the First New Year Under Pandemic Restrictions

The ushering in of 2021 was more subdued this New Year, with municipalities in the largest Greek region of Attica trying to cheer up residents living under coronavirus restrictions with short videos of carol-singing, town bands playing seasonal songs around the town, and services distributing food and medicine to households.

Services related to financially distressed families distributed "packages of love" to the most vulnerable of their residents, collected through public drives and handed out by municipal workers and volunteers, while almost all cities activated help lines for people spending New Year's alone and those who need emotional support, especially if forced to spend time away from their families.

In towns where there is no philharmonic band, municipalities called on teachers and students of music schools (odeia) to help, with short videos produced and distributed through official city pages and the social media.

Throughout Greece, each locale observed their own traditions, with the most frequently shared customs nationally being the breaking of a pomegranate at at the threshold and "podariko", or entering homes with the right foot forward.

In several towns, for example, the father of the family enters the home after church services by breaking a pomegranate – an ancient symbol of good luck and fertility – as soon as he enters the home. "Podariko" also calls for the person entering a household for the first time, whether as member or visitor, with the right foot, in order to bring luck for the year. This tradition is prevalent in larger cities as well, including Athens. 

Other homes hang on the house's door a bulb from a plant such as onion to bring abundance to the household in the coming year. 

On New Year's Day – and celebrated throughout January by associations, work places and even ministries – a new year's cake with a hidden coin is cut at a simple ceremony, bringing luck to the finder, while in some areas of Greece like Arcadia, food is left out for the Fates, bringing good luck to the entire community if it has been consumed by the day after.

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