August 27 marks the celebration of St. Fanourios. The martyr is known for helping the faithful find lost items, whether they be physical objects, or metaphorical ones, such as hope.
In honor of St. Fanourios, Greek women typically bake a Fanouropita, or Saint Fanourios Pie, in hopes of find something they have lost. Single women and those who are sick or in distress bake the pie to find out the name of their future husband, a cure for their ailments, or a solution for their problems.
There is a prayer that is said while making the pie that asks for St. Fanourios’ help in finding the object that the baker is looking for.
The pie is then brought to the Greek Orthodox Church, where it is blessed during vespers, or evening prayers, and then distributed among the parishioners. Traditionally, at least nine people should eat a piece of the pie.
Recipes for the fanouropita vary from region to region, and many women have developed their own secret recipes to make the most delicious pie. These recipes are then passed down through the family.
Commonly used ingredients include raisins, crushed nuts, spices such as cinnamon and clove, and sesame seeds. However, recipes can vary widely. As it is a fasting pie, it never includes butter, eggs, or other animal products, making it vegan.
Regardless of differences between the pies, they are all made with either 7 or 9 ingredients. Both numbers have been considered sacred and powerful since ancient times. They also have religious significance.
Depending on the recipe, a fanouropita can either be delicious, or less than tasty. Traditionally, women closely guarded their fanouropita recipes, but now many recipes can be found online.
The tradition began in Rhodes, where an icon of St. Fanourios was found in 1500, and later spread all around Greece.