Friday’s Fact About: The Greek Santa Claus

The Western Santa that most associated with Christmas

The Western Santa that is most associated with Christmas

According to the Greek tradition, the equivalent of the Western Santa Claus in Greece is Agios Vassilis.

Agios Vasilis is ‘St Basil’ in English, and he comes from Caesarea in Asia Minor.

The story of St Basil is quite similar to the one of St Nicholas (the Western Santa Claus). St Basil (Agios Vasileios) was a kind-hearted and helpful man, who was aiding the poor and needy ones while he was bishop in Caesarea.

Agios Vassilios was far from chubby though; he was a tall, thin man with a black beard and black penetrating eyes.

santa greek

He died on January 1st 379 AD. and the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates his memory on January 1st. This is why in Greece Agios Vasilis brings presents on New Year’s Eveand not on Christmas, as it happens elsewhere in the world.

According to the Greek tradition, the Greek Santa Claus was associated with bringing practical aid to the poor, so he was considered as someone who brings “gifts”. For the Greeks in Asia Minor, Agios Vassilis was something like the European Santa Claus.

It is not exactly clear how St Basil became the Greek Santa Claus, but the most predominant version of the story is that the Greeks of Turkey and Asia Minor brought the legend with them when forced to leave their homeland and move to Greece. This is why the main sweet bread of the New Year’s Eve in Greece bears his name:Vassilopita.

Since then, the Greek Santa Claus is Agios Vassilis, and all Greeks, children and adults, expect him to come on New Year’s Eve and bring his gifts to the families, leaving them under the Christmas Tree


Merry Christmas to all! “Καλά Χριστούγεννα”

Taken from

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