Cypriots love holidays, of which there are many on the island. In addition to the national civil and religious ones, every city and almost every village has its own local holidays, festivals and carnivals on certain days or weeks of the year. There are such special days in monasteries as well. For example, each of them celebrates the birthday of their patron saint; on this day, panigirias – religious fairs – unfold near the walls of the monastery. Products and sweets are the most popular goods of the holiday trade.
On the days of national holidays, government offices, banks, government organizations, private firms, and trading establishments are closed. Only in places of rest there are some shops.
Public holidays in the Republic of Cyprus are:
- January 1 – New Year
- January 6 – Epiphany, or Epiphany
- “Green Monday”
- March 25 – Greek Independence Day
- April 1 – Greek Cypriot Day
- Good Friday
- May 1 – Labor Day
- August 15 – Assumption of the Virgin
- October 1 – Cyprus Independence Day
- October 28 – Greek national holiday
- December 25 and 26 – Christmas
January 1 – New Year.
On the eve, the housewives prepare vasilopitta, a festive cake with a coin baked inside it. According to Harvardshoes, the pie is called Vasilopitta in honor of St. Basil, who, it is believed, comes to the house on the eve of the holiday to bless its inhabitants and distribute gifts to children, as our Santa Claus does. The one who gets a coin from vasilopitta at the festive table will be lucky in the coming year. On New Year’s Eve they give gifts, guess the future and have fun from the heart.
January 6 – Epiphany, or Epiphany.
Religious holiday. On this day Christ was baptized. Before the holiday, water is consecrated in the church, which is thus cleansed of evil spirits. So that the spirits do not cause harm, the housewives throw pieces of fish and sausages on the roofs of their houses. In the coastal cities on Epiphany, after mass in the church, the procession heads to the sea, where the priest throws a cross into the water, and one of the young people must get this cross.
The holiday called “Green Monday” does not have a fixed date in the calendar, because it is held 50 days before Easter, which also has a “floating” date. In different years, “Green Monday” is celebrated either in February or in March (in 1998 it is March 2, in 1999 – February 22, in 2000 – March 13). From this day begins Great Lent. On this day, Cypriots go on picnics and the main dishes on the tables are vegetarian.
March 25 – Greek Independence Day
This date is also celebrated in Cyprus. In the morning, parades of students and schoolchildren are held in the cities, and in the afternoon – concerts on the streets.
April 1 – Greek Cypriot Day
It is believed that from that day in 1955, the Greek Cypriots began to fight against the British colonialists.
This Friday on Holy Week, on the eve of Easter, also does not have a clearly fixed date (in 1998, Good Friday falls on April 17, in 1999 – on April 9, in 2000 – on April 28). On this day, the icons are draped with black cloth, the faithful arrange a procession, carrying a shroud with the image of Christ. On this day, according to popular belief, you can not cut your nails and wash your hair.
The biggest holiday in Orthodox Cyprus. On the day of the resurrection of Jesus, the 50-day Lent ends. Every year this holiday falls on different days (in 1998 – April 19, in 1999 – April 11, in 2000 – April 30). The day before, Cypriots bake a flauna (or flaunes) cheese pie and color the eggs. Preparations for the holiday are going on throughout Orthodox Cyprus. On Saturday nights, groups of children go from house to house, singing songs, and are traditionally given pieces of flauna cake and Easter eggs. Closer to midnight the Cypriots gather in the church. The effigy of Judas, who betrayed Christ, is burned. The divine service that night ends with the words of the priest: “Anesti Christ!” (“Christ is risen!”). “Alysos anesti!” (“Truly risen!”), – the parishioners answer, lighted candles appear in their hands. The celebration continues at home, in the family circle. The traditional Easter soup “magiritsa” (which, among other things, includes lamb, eggs, rice, lemon juice) is put on the table. In the afternoon on Holy Sunday of Christ, since Great Lent has ended, the main dish becomes the indispensable “suvla” – mutton ham cooked on a spit, stuffed with garlic, pepper and oregano and poured with lemon juice. On this day, the feast covers the whole country. Most Cypriots celebrate the holiday with their families. Monday and Tuesday, following the Bright Sunday of Christ, also bear the imprint of the holiday.
Cataclysmos – Greek Orthodox Church
An annual religious holiday held on Pentecost (50 days after Orthodox Easter), which is why the date is different every year (in 1998 – June 8, in 1999 – May 31, in 2000 – June 19). It is believed that the celebration of this day reflects the memory of the global flood. In all coastal cities, “cataclysmos” is celebrated with fairs, music, dances and singing “chattis ta” (like ditties). Festivities continue for several days.
August 15 – Assumption of the Virgin
Dormition of the Holy Mother of God. Divine services are held in the largest monasteries, and processions are made throughout the island. Most of the locals go on their annual monthly vacation at this time.
October 1 – Independence Day of Cyprus.
In Nicosia, near the Presidential Palace, a military parade is held.
October 28 is a national holiday in Greece.
It is also celebrated in Cyprus. It is called “Ohi Day”, i.e. “No Day”. In 1940, Greece refused to surrender to Italy, and since then October 28 has been celebrated as a national holiday of independence. Demonstrations are held in the cities with the participation of students and pupils.
December 25 and 26 – Christmas
The Republic of Cyprus is dominated by the Orthodox religion, but, unlike Russia, Christmas is celebrated here before the New Year. This is the time for smart shop windows, holiday shopping and pleasant chores around the house. Already in the afternoon of December 24, on the eve of Christmas, you are unlikely to find a Cypriot in the workplace. It is customary to celebrate Christmas with a richly laid table. These days Cypriots visit relatives and meet friends.
In addition to national holidays, traditional annual festivals and festivities are held in different cities of Cyprus.
Cypriots are very fond of participating in festive processions.
50 days before Orthodox Easter, a two-week carnival is held throughout Cyprus, bearing the name “Apocreo”. In these two weeks – the last before Great Lent – the cult of food flourishes: on the first, “meat” week (in Greek “creatics”), meat is plentifully consumed, and on the second, “cheese” (in Greek “tirini”), comes the turn of dairy products and, in particular, cheeses. Carnival processions are held in almost all cities of Cyprus, but the most spectacular events are in Limassol. Here comes the Carnival King. And from that day on, mummers have fun in hotels and nightclubs. On one of the days, a children’s carnival is held at the Limassol stadium, where each participant is dressed in a carnival costume, and on the last day of the holiday, the streets of Limassol are filled with a large procession of mummers.
In Larnaca, the citizens in memory of the patron saint of the city, St. Lazarus, pass in a festive procession through the streets, including along the Palm Embankment.
In May, in all cities of Cyprus, Flower Festivals (“Antestiria”) are held. The riot of colors of luxurious flower beds and bouquets is a farewell to the freshness of spring on the eve of a scalding hot summer.
During the Wine Festival, the streets of Limassol are lined with wine barrels
In Larnaca and Limassol, art festivals are held for a whole month – theatrical performances, music and dance. Coastal towns celebrate with water battles, swimming contests and boat races. There is also a 3-day Shakespeare Festival, during which bard plays are performed at the ancient theater of Kourion. During the summer, the Pafian Festival takes place. The ancient Odeon and Paphos Castle host many theatrical, dance and musical performances.
Limassol hosts the Wine Festival. In the city park on the embankment, wine producers exhibit all the best that is made by master winemakers. Festival in Ayia Napa, which takes place in a medieval monastery. International performances of folklore music, dance and theater, as well as agricultural and other exhibitions.
Holidays in Northern Cyprus
Christian religious holidays are not celebrated in Northern Cyprus, Muslim holidays are celebrated in accordance with the lunar calendar, so every year they are held on different days.
- Ramadan Bayram – lasts three days and completes a monthly fast;
- Eid al-Adha – the feast of sacrifice, two months after Ramadan;
- Muslim New Year;
- Prophet’s birthday.