The Greek New Year’s Tradition of Hanging Onions on Doors

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For many people in the world, New Year’s is looked at as a time that brings about a feeling of renewal, and the same is true in Greece. This is also looked at as a time that can bring luck, and many view the activities that occur on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day to be an important part of securing a prosperous and healthy New Year.

That’s why many people in Greece spend their time making sure that their year starts off right. They engage in certain rituals and activities that are designed to bring luck. Hanging onions on the door in the household is one of these activities. Here’s a look at where this ritual came from and why it’s so important:

Onions are a Symbol of Rebirth

Since the days of the ancient Greeks, the onion has been representative of growth and rebirth. The reason for this is simple – onions are viewed as highly fertile because the bulbs seem to want to sprout, even if they are being left alone. When an onion is left too long without being used, it seems to want to put down roots and grow once again. According to Greeks, this is the ultimate symbol of fertility and this is why the onion is always hung on a door in the household – to help the people in the household grow and experience a rebirth of their own in the coming year.

Type of Onion that is Used

The species of onion historically used, scientific name Urginea maritima but known to the peoples of the time as a squill, grew in wild abundance on the isle of Crete. Though not widely appreciated due to its noxious nature, the plant was believed to have mystical powers of regeneration because of its ability to regrow. For pagans, these magical powers were a gift from the god Pan, patron of nature and the wild; offering the squill bulbs to him were a means of asking for his favor. Christianity began this practice with the same reasoning, and now today you might see foil-wrapped onions perched over door mantles, warding off bad spirits and inviting a year of plenty.

Hanging An Onion at Home

For Greeks, it is so important to be sure to hang an onion at home! Usually, the family attends the New Year’s Day church service. Once the service is done, they find an onion to bring home. At that point, they find a place inside the house to hang an onion. It is very important to wait until after the service is over because this is part of the ritual!

Onions were chosen for New Year’s because they are a symbol of good health, fertility, and longevity. This is one of the many New Year’s rituals that people do in order to make sure the new year is filled with many blessings. New Year’s is thought to be a time to bring luck, and the Greek people believe that these rituals help.

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This post was written by Greek Boston