Tangerines for a Good Start to the New Year

Traditions in Greece are often blended with religious practices and customs from many countries. This is not always a ‘bad thing’. Just like nature evolves, our traditions can ‘take a turn’ also, towards to something new, in an evolved globalized civilization.

‘Kalanda’ are a Greek custom for the first day of the New Year. Little kids go from one home to another and sing a specific song that is dedicated to St. Basil. The kalanda seem to derive from ancient Greece. The god Dionysos/Vakhos, son of Zeus, the god of celebration, feast and, wine inspired Dionysian feasts, with children singing for a good year as they held twigs of olive tree and some sheep’s fur, symbolizing ‘fertility and health.’ This custom gradually and steadily transformed into modern Greek-Christian folklore.

Housewives wait the young children with anticipation and joy, to hear their goodwishes and sweet kalanda. The children were given special treats in the old days, reflecting the culture in each area of Greece… or what was available. In Crete, housewives gave some olive oil. In the Peloponnese, tangerines. Rarely, the children received a coin. Nowadays, in the century of ‘abundance’, the treat is not the point. Children usually have everything they would desire in their homes – but they continue this sweet custom, and they continue to express surprise over what you put in their basket. For me, tangerines are the number one treat!

Tangerines or mandarins pack a great amount vitamin C into a large amount of water (85%). In cold environments, vitamin C is ideal of avoiding colds or other illness. Also, the water helps their sweet voices to remain sweet! Natural sugars keep their sugar level OK, so maybe, they will avoid overeating the other sweets! Folate, carotene, potassium, and vitamin A also are there in high levels! So, they are high in antioxidants and protect bodies from the damaging effects of oxidative stress. They are actually good immunity boosters, helping T cells’ function and development. Also, some studies support that vitamin C and nobiletin (a substance in mandarins), help with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. They support brain health, but also protect from heart attack and stroke.

For all ages, tangerines are the best sweet treat – they are rejuvenating, for a good start in the New Year!


* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.


Evropi-Sofia Dalampira holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics and an MSc in Botany-Biology.




Long ago, there was a vast and rich kingdom in the southern Mediterranean.

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