Christmas and New Year are perhaps the most long-awaited and magical holidays and Cyprus is surely a festive place to be with warm family traditions, special and interesting customs, lots of activities for everyone, unique events and delicious tastes.
The atmosphere of the Christmas tale is felt with the Christmas concerts, parties and folk festivals, which in Cyprus are carried out in all major cities throughout the whole of December.
Christmas in Cyprus is traditionally a solemn, religious holiday. Beautiful carols called “kalanda” have been handed down from Byzantine times and add to the reverent quality of the celebration. On Christmas Eve the children usually wander around the neighbourhood from door to door carrying triangles (small music instruments named after their shape) and sing Cypriot Christmas carols.
One of the most important ways Cyprus celebrates Christmas is through food. Traditionally in Cyprus, they prepare Vasilopita (Santa’s pie), which has a hidden ‘lucky’ coin within and the one who finds the lucky coin must keep it in his wallet for the rest of the year, meaning he will never be left without money in his pockets. Tables are full with delicious Melomakarona (walnut biscuits with honey syrup) to delectable Kourabiedes (almond cookies dressed in white sugar), from stuffed turkey to pork on fire accompanied with a glass of wine. Pomegranates are also very popular during Christmas in Cyprus and they are not only used for decoration as they also symbolize fertility as well as wealth and happiness.
Another Cypriot Christmas custom has to do with olive small leaves. A common village tradition is to cross a leaf of the olive tree by a fireplace and then, after making a wish to Saint Claus, toss it into the fire. Before tossing the dry leaf into the flames, you would say ”Ayie Vassili King, show and illuminate if I am loved by…” and then you name whoever’s love you are hoping for. If the leaf jumps up after you dropped it in the fire, then that means the person loves you. If not, you can try again.
So, if you are about to spend your Christmas holidays in Cyprus do not be afraid of a potential bad weather since temperature is normally around 15-20 degrees during the day, with the sun shining up on the sky and if you are lucky you may enjoy snow up on the mountains.