Most holidays and traditions in Greece have obvious meaning. At Easter, the death and resurrection of Christ is grieved and celebrated as if it was happening again. There is no confusion about the symbolism. At Christmas, decorative boats are strung with twinkle lights in honor of St Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors whose feast day is celebrated in December . On New Year’s Eve, however, things are different.
New Year’s Eve is usually celebrated with more curious traditions. Most are based on superstitions; opening all the faucets at midnight is supposed to bring you good luck and money in the coming year, as is smashing a pomegranate on the doorstep, or being the lucky person who finds the coin hidden in the “vasilopita” cake. It’s also common to gift each other lucky charms.
Some of the traditions don’t seem to have any hidden meaning at all. Our favorite one is the early New Year’s Day breakfast, a custom that probably started with someone at some point in time uttering the words “I’ve had a lot to drink; we better eat something. What’s open?”
It’s stage three on the New Year’s agenda for most young people. Stage one is dinner and card games with the family (with optional gift exchanges and superstitious fruit smashing). After midnight, it’s time to battle traffic for stage two, which is drinking and dancing at the clubs until you forget everything about the previous year. Then, finally, you get to stage three, the tradition of ending the New Year’s Eve festivities – and beginning the new year with a very early, and very big, breakfast.
Many hotel restaurants open early to satisfy the hungry mouths of revellers who have danced all through the night (of course, if you prefer to sleep before you have your eggs, you can find excellent buffet and brunch options all day long).
Below are some of our favorite options for the first meal of 2018 (be advised that reservations may be required):
Electra Metropolis will serve early breakfast from 05.30 until 11.00. The price is 50€ per person including a welcome drink of sparkling wine.
If you’re not in time, the New Year’s Day Buffet will be served from 12.00 to 16.00 for 120€ per person, including unlimited house wine (kids 0-6 eat for free, and 6-12 at half price). A DJ will help set the mood for the new year. Find the menu here.
Tel: +30 214.100.6200
The Hilton hotel serves their early buffet breakfast from 04.30-10.00 for 45€ per person. Later, from 13.00 to 16.30, you can enjoy a New Year’s buffet lunch for 110€ per person, including a drinks package. See details here (link in Greek).
Tel: +30 210.728.1400
New Taste restaurant at the New Hotel goes all in with a New Year’s Hangover Breakfast buffet complete with dishes meant to cure your headache and satisfy all your cravings (fries, sausage with peppers and tomato, and bean soup).
It’s available from 5.00 to 07.00 for 45€ per person. See the menu here.
Tel: +30 210.327.3170
ATHENAEUM INTERCONTINENTAL ATHENS
At Athenaeum Intercontinental Athens, you can kick off 2018 with a champagne buffet breakfast, open between 05.00 and 11.00 for just 32€ per person. Between 12.30 and 16.00 they will serve a special New Year’s brunch for 85€ per person. See the menu here.
Tel: +30 210.920.6000
ST. GEORGE LYCABETTUS BOUTIQUE HOTEL
St. George Lycabettus Boutique Hotel hasn’t announced an early breakfast, but their New Year’s Day family brunch buffet is worth a visit. It will start at 12.00, and the price is 55€ per person. Reserve your table here.