PM to welcome Scouts of Greece for New Year's Carols this morning - The tradition of the Kalanda

Hellenic Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will welcome the Scouts of Greece to Maximos Mansion at 10:30 on Sunday
Hellenic Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will welcome the Scouts of Greece to Maximos Mansion at 10:30 on Sunday

There, they will sing New Year's Carols (a.k.a. Kalanda) to the Premier, his family and staff.

Traditionally, the New Year’s Kalanda (carols) — like the ones children sing during Christmas — are recited with chimes and triangles.

Children go door to door in Greek towns and villages and sing for their neighbors. When complete, they are rewarded with coins or sweets.

There are dozens of variations in each region of Greece, but there is one standardized version that all Greek kids learn growing up which announces the coming of St. Basil from Caesarea.

The central motif is, for the most part, the same: wishes for love, peace, health, joy, and wealth, but depending on the region additional “needs” come forth, such as a safe return home (for the sea-faring), a plentiful bounty (for the farmers), abundance in wine and cheese (for the mountain folk), milk and honey (for the shepherds), and all these goodies are expected in the New Year with a little help from our friend… Agios Vassilis – a Greek (more solemn and much thinner) version of Santa Claus.

In the past, before the late 1980s and the introduction of Western-style (over)consumerism, Greeks offered gifts on New Year’s Day, the day marking “Agios Vassilis’” or St. Basil’s name day.

Known as Saint Basil the Great, he was a bishop in Caesarea in Cappadocia – as the carols reveal – who was known mostly for his kindness to the poor and underprivileged. Unlike his rosy-cheeked chubby counterpart in the West, Agios Vassilis was tall, lanky, and thin symbolizing restraint and dedication.

So, once the bells toll on New Year’s Eve – nowadays, a bit later in the day due to modernity’s late-night pleasures – youngsters don their smiles, shiny triangles in hand, and set off to bring the good news to neighbors and friends.

In the days of old, and again depending on the territory, the carolers would also play the fiddle, the daouli (a traditional deep drum) common in the Macedonia and Thrace region, the ceramic drum, the stringed lagouto or the bagpipe. They would go door to door and after knocking would bid the lady of the house: “Na Ta Poume?” (Should we sing you the carols?”). The mistress would then say “Na Ta Peite” (Please Do…) and so the carolers would chant away their best wishes for the New Year. Once their song was over, she would offer them sweets and coins. And this tradition continues to this day.

Lyrics for Greek New Year’s Kalanda:

Αρχιμηνιά κι Αρχιχρονιά
Αρχιμηνιά κι Αρχιχρονιά
ψηλή μου δεντρολιβανιά
κι αρχή— κι αρχή καλός μας χρόνος
εκκλησιά με τ’ άγιο θρόνος.

Αρχή που βγήκε ο Χριστός
άγιος και Πνευματικός,
στη γη— στη γη να περπατήσει
και να μας καλοκαρδίσει.

Αγιος Βασίλης έρχεται,
και δεν μας καταδέχεται,
από— από την Καισαρεία,
συ’ σαι αρχόντισσα κυρία.

Βαστά εικόνα και χαρτί
ζαχαροπλάστη, ζυμωτή
χαρτί— χαρτί και καλαμάρι
δες και με-δες και με το παλικάρι.

Το καλαμάρι έγραφε,
τη μοίρα του την έλεγε
και το— και το χαρτί ομίλει
Άγιε μου- άγιε μου καλέ Βασίλη.

Κάτσε να φας κάτσε να πιείς
Κάτσε τον πόνο σου να πεις
κάτσε, κάτσε να τραγουδήσεις
Και να μας— και να μας καλοκαρδήσεις


Archimenia and Archichronia
Archimenia and Archichronia
my tall rosemary
and the beginning—and the beginning of our good time
church with the holy throne.

Beginning when Christ came out
holy and Spiritual,
on earth— on earth to walk
and be kind to us.

santa claus is coming
and does not accept us,
from— from Caesarea,
you are a noble lady.

Basta image and paper
confectioner, fermenter
paper— paper and squid
see me-see me and the lad.

The squid said,
he called his fate
and the— and the paper speaks
Oh my, oh my, dear Santa.

Sit down to eat sit down to drink
Sit down and talk about your pain
sit down, sit down and sing
And to us—and to be kind to us



Xronia Polla kai Kaly Xronia from Athens24!