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Holiday time in Cyprus begins December 6, the Feast of Saint Nicholas, and ends January 6, the Epiphany. On the day and evening before Christmas, children will go house to house to sing beautiful carols known as "Kalanda", which date to By- zantine times. These kalandas are a blessing to the household, and the people who are saying the kalandas often receive gifts. Blessings are important and perhaps necessary as the mythical sprites call Kalikantzari might get into mischief around the house. On New Year's Eve, as on Christmas Eve, grown ups as well as children go from house to house singing the New Year's Kalanda, similar to those of Christmas but with different lyrics. They spread the good wishes of the season and proclaim that "St. Basil is coming from Cesaeria". St. Basil, one of the fore- fathers of the Greek Orthodox Church, is remembered for his kindness and generosity to the poor. He is thought to have died on January 1, so he is honored this day. Unlike in the Western tradition, gifts are exchanged on "St. Basil's Day" or New Year's Day, commemorating the gifts that St. Basil brought to the poor children of the villages of Asia Minor where he lived. St. Basil is said to visit every house on New Year's Eve or Day and expects to be offered something. Much like the western tradition of leaving something for Santa, Greeks leave food on the table for St. Basil. Tradition says the more abundant the table, the more abundant with good luck the family will be. In some regions, families may leave a place setting for him, in case he decides to join the family for dinner.
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