Despite the fact that Orthodoxy came Byzantium, the orthodox celebrated religious holidays in many ways. We have collected all of the features of its celebration in this article, to make You thoroughly prepared for the traditional Christmas in Cyprus.
When is Christmas celebrated in Cyprus?
In contrast to the Russian Orthodox Church , Christmas in Cyprus is traditionally celebrated on 25th, December. The two week difference is due to the use of the Julian calendar in the ROC and New Julian in most other Christian churches. However, the essence of the holiday does not change.
How to celebrate?
On Christmas Eve all over Cyprus children can be heard singing carols – “Calanda” and “Good evening, the Magi” (local carols) and «Jingle Bells». «Kolyada» is celebrated with cookies, sweets and fruits.
On the December, 25th Cypriots go to church for the service and receive Holy Communion. Then, with good wishes to each other, it’s back home for the holiday feast. According to Cypriot beliefs, stepping over the threshold right foot first will bring you good luck in the New Year.
The actual Christmas time begins the next day and lasts until 4th January. A series of celebrations then ensues, one of which of course is New Year, where the Cypriots traditionally prepare Vasilopita, and in place of Santa Claus, the children of Cyprus have Saint Vasilis (“Agios Vasilis”).
On January 6th, the eve of the Russian Christmas, Cyprus celebrate Epiphany. On this day, the children visit their grandparents reading their traditional greetings in verse.
The holiday is preceded by a 40 day fast and so on arriving back home after Christmas prayers, Cypriots look forward to sitting down to the holiday feast with all their family and breaking fast.
The 12 mandatory Christmas dishes are not traditional here but besides the traditional cakes the Cypriots call Koulouri, the hostess will also cook turkey or chicken stuffed with rice, raisins, nuts, melomakarono and cookies “kurabe” – almond cakes, covered with powdered sugar, roasted almonds and other nuts.
Poinsettia, also called “Bethlehem” and “The Christmas Star” – is a flower, that blooms on Christmas Eve in Cyprus and, along with the traditional fir is often used to decorate the home for the Christmas holidays.
Other customs and traditions of the celebration
The last 12 days before Christmas are considered to be the most dangerous, and so to protect the home the hostess will hang over the door an Olive or Basil branch which has been wrapped around the cross and sprinkled with holy water, to scare off evil spirits.
If you want to celebrate Christmas in Cyprus, just forget about snow and frosty freshness, rather it will be a warm and sunny family holiday, full of light, miracles and kindness!