Day 9: January 2: The Feast of St. Basil
On the ninth day of Christmas, the Feast of St. Basil is celebrated to remember the work of this holy man and to recognize his impact on Christmas tradition. On this day, families come together and celebrate the life of St. Basil for his witness for Jesus and his care for the poor. During the fourth century, St. Basil recognized that Jesus was not just another good teacher, but that He is indeed God Himself. The influence of St. Basil’s message is what gives Christmas its meaning; it is a season to celebrate the incarnation of God who came in the flesh in order to graft us into His family and continue to grow us in His Spirit.
Matthew 1:18-25 tells the story of the birth of Jesus and shows the significance of it to our salvation. God sent His only son as a gift to mankind so that we can be a part of His own family as His children. This passage demonstrates how God creates His family through Mary and Joseph, which models how mankind is now involved in God’s family. In verse 23, Jesus is called Immanuel meaning, “God with us,” which shows how God is in the flesh among mankind so that we can be saved from eternal death. The fact that we can be a part of God’s family demonstrates why we should celebrate the entire Christmas season. St. Basil noticed this connection and made it his desire to welcome everyone into his family by giving to the poor and helping those in need. Through St. Basil’s evangelism, we recognize today that Jesus is one with God, which is why we recognize the importance of the coming of Jesus. On the Feast of St. Basil, families come together as God had His family come together, celebrating the work of St. Basil and his lasting impact on the Christmas season.
St. Basil realized the importance of caring for others, especially the poor. He saw how God sent His gift, Jesus, to the world, and spread this good news along with his gifts to the poor. St. Basil demonstrated how we should view this season as a time to care for others and be witnesses of Christ. In the same way he showed love to the poor, we should spend this season caring for others by giving gifts such as food, labor, or even time. God has welcomed us into His family, so we should welcome others into our family as well.
Prayer of the Day:
Lord, You are a loving and merciful God. Thank You for sending Your son down to earth so we can be a part of Your family. It is truly the best gift of all. I pray that we will recognize the importance of Jesus’ birth during the Christmas season and help others to recognize it as well. I thank You for all of the ways we have been blessed, and I pray that You assist us in blessing others especially during this time of giving. We love You and we thank You for welcoming us into Your family. I pray all of these things in Jesus’ name, Amen.
St. Basil’s Bread
The tradition of St. Basil’s Bread, also called Vasilopita, dates back to the fourth century when St. Basil gifted money to the poor through baking coins in bread he gave them. Today, the Feast of St. Basil involves families coming together to share Vasilopita. Inside the Vasilopita is a coin, and whoever finds the coin in their piece of bread is believed to receive a special blessing from St. Basil for the coming year. In tradition, the first piece served is for Jesus, the second is for St. Basil, the third and fourth are for mom and dad, and then the children are served from oldest to youngest. St. Basil’s Bread is a fun way to participate in the Feast of St. Basil with your family. Here is a simple recipe for Vasilopita:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 extra-large eggs
- Grated rind of 2 large oranges
- Grated rind of 2 large lemons
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed/powdered sour cherry pits
- 2 teaspoons crushed/powdered gum mastic
- 4 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 egg yolk blended with 1 tablespoon milk
- Sesame seeds
- Blanched almonds
- A clean coin wrapped in silver or gold foil
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Thickly butter a 10-inch round springform pan.
2. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the sugar and beat until the mixture is light. Beat in the eggs, one a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the orange and lemon rinds, and the crushed/powdered sour cherry pits and gum mastic.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together three cups of the flour, the baking powder and salt.
4. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the dry mixture alternately with the milk. The batter will be very thick. Using a wooden spoon, gradually blend in the remaining flour, beating well until completely smooth.
5. Spread the batter into the pan, press the coin into the dough until it is completely covered (don’t let anyone see where you place it!), and then smooth the top. Brush the top evenly with the egg and milk mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Gently press the blanched almonds into the top to make a Cross and spell out the date of the new year.
6. Bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown (if it browns too quickly, cover the top with aluminum foil). Cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing from spring form and thoroughly cool before slicing.