Cyprus is a magical place at Christmas time. If you’re lucky enough to spend the festive season on this wonderful island, you’ll find plenty of familiar Christmas traditions being followed, but also some that might be new to you…
1. Music and singing on your doorstep
If your doorbell rings on Christmas Eve, answer it and you may be treated to carol singers. It’s traditional to reward them with money or traditional Cypriot Christmas sweets.
2. Sweet treats abound!
Cypriots love their sweet treats, so whenever there is a holiday or feast day, it’s the perfect excuse to start making delicious delights. Christmas is certainly no exception and you’ll find wherever you go you’re being offered the most wonderful traditional Christmas sweets. Two of the most famous festive treats that you really must sample are kourabiedes, an almond biscuit coated in icing sugar, and melomakarona, honey glazed cinnamon and orange biscuits.
3. A tradition of fasting
It is traditional for Greek Orthodox to fast for 40 days before Christmas. These days it’s not commonly followed, but it might be a good way to lose a little weight before you start enjoying all those festive sweets!
4. There’s a special cake for New Year’s Eve
In Cyprus, there seems to be a special sweet treat for every occasion, and so on New Year’s Eve, you can enjoy a slice of Vasilopita cake. It’s a New Year must-have, and if you find a coin in your slice, you’re the lucky one, and it is thought that the following year is going to be particularly fortunate for you.
5. No presents on Christmas Day?
In Cyprus, presents are not opened on Christmas Day, but instead on New Year’s Day. Could you wait that long to open your gifts? Don’t worry though, there’s still plenty of fun and feasting on December 25th!
6. Find out if you’re loved
At Christmas time, make a cross out of an olive branch and throw it on the fire while thinking of someone you love. If the leaves jump and crackle, that person loves you too!
7. A cool dip could bring a year of luck
On January 6th there are many celebrations in honour of the sea. A bishop will throw a cross into the ocean and people will dive into the freezing water to try and find it. The reward for finding it is a lucky year ahead.
8. Children banish naught spirits
During the 12 days of Christmas, kalikantzari, naughty spirits, can cause havoc playing tricks on people. It’s traditional for children to visit their grandparents every day during this time, their presence keeps those pesky spirits at bay.
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