This is a Greek New Year's song that's sometimes The Kalenta of the New Year. Kalenta means carol. It's sung to announce the coming of St. Basil. St. Basil is similar to Santa or St. Nick, but he brings gifts to children on New Year's Eve. He comes from Caesarea in Turkey. Carolers sing this in his honor on New Year's Eve.

The lyrics of the song have their roots in the traditions of St. Basil's Day (New Year's Day). The first person in a house in the New Year is supposed to bring luck, especially if that person is strong. If that person is holding an icon (a religious image), then they bring even more luck.

St. Basil's sweet bread or cake, called vasilópita, is eaten after midnight on New Year's Eve or on New Year's Day. In some places a slice of it is even left out for St. Basil to eat (like cookies are left out for Santa). Sweet things are eaten to ensure a sweet New Year. Fortune-telling is also a part of the holiday.

Notes

*The rosemary can refer to the plant or a lady.
**In what is now Turkey. St. Basil was the Bishop of Caesarea in the 4th century. Caesarea is now called Kayseri.
***Saint Basil is like Father Christmas or Santa Claus.

Pronunciation:

Arhiminia ki arhihronia


1. Archiminiá ki archichroniá
psilí mou dhendrolivaniá
ki archí kalós mas chrónos
ekklisiá me t' áyio thrónos.

2. Archí pou vyíke o christós
áyios ke pneumatikós,
sti yi na perpatísi
ke na mas kalokardhísi.

3. Ayios vasílis érchete,
ke dhen mas katadhéchete,
apó tin kesaría,
si' se archóntisa kiría.

4. Vastá ikóna ke chartí
zacharokárno, zymotí
chartí ke kalamári
dhes ke me-dhes ke me to palikári.

5. To kalamári éghrafe,
ti míra tou tin éleye
ke to chartí-ke to chartí omíli
áyie mou-áyie mou kalé vasíli.

6. kátse na fas kátse na pis
kátse ton póno sou na pis
kátse na traghoudhísis
ke na mas kalokardhísis

Pronunciation conventions:

i: as in "bit"
a: as in "father"
e: as in "bet"
o: as in "oh"
u = oo
ou = oo
y: as in "you"

th: unvoiced, as in "thing"
s: always "s"
gh: voiced, a sort of gargling sound, the voiced German "ch" in Bach or the Spanish "j".
ch: as in German "ich"
ch: as the German "ch" in Bach or the Spanish "j"
dh: voiced, as in "this, that".

Comments

Additional Verses (not typically sung nowadays):

Και νέον έτος αριθμεί
την του Χριστού περιτομή
και η μνήμη του Αγίου
Ιεράρχου Βασιλείου.

Του χρόνου μας αρχή καλή
και ο Χριστός μας προσκαλεί
την κακία ν' αρνηθούμε
μ' αρετές να στολιστούμε.

Να ζούμε βίον τέλειον
κατά το ευαγγέλιον
με αγάπη με ειρήνη
και με τη δικαιοσύνη.

Χρόνια πολλά και ευτυχή
με καθαρά κι αγνή ψυχή
με χαρά και με υγεία
και με θεία ευλογία.

English Translation:

And the New Year,
The circumcision of Christ
And the memory of the Saint,
Bishop Basil's reign.

Wishing a good start to the New Year
And Christ invites us
To reject wickedness
To adorn ourselves with virtues.

To live a perfect life
In the gospel
With love and peace
And with justice.

Have many happy years
With a clean and pure soul
Happy and healthy
And with divine blessing.

Pronunciation:

Kai néon étos arithmí
tin tou Christoú peritomí
kai i mními tou Agíou
Ierárchou Vasileíou.

Ke néon étos arithmeí
tin tou christoú peritomí
ke i mními tou ayíou
yerárchou vasileíou.

Tou chrónou mas archí kalí
ke o christós mas proskalí
tin kakía n' arnithoúme
m' aretés na stolistoúme.

Na zoúme víon télion
katá to evangélion
me aghápi me iríni
ke me ti dhikeosíni.

Chrónia pollá ke eftichí
me kathará ki aghní psichí
me chará ke me iyía
ke me thía euloyía.

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Thanks and Acknowledgements

Translated by Lisa Yannucci. Pronunciation by Monique Palomares.

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