There’s a real sense of magic that surrounds Christmas time in Cyprus. Ancient customs and traditions that have remained at the forefront of the Christmas festivities for centuries are enjoyed as much today as they ever have been. Cyprus has some unique and wonderful traditions, from delicious edible treats, to customs that bring friends and family together to celebrate the season. If you spend Christmas in Cyprus, here are just some of the customs and traditions you could be enjoying…
A tradition originally adopted from the British, the Christmas tree is now a huge part of a traditional Cyprus Christmas. Usually put up around the beginning of December and beautifully decorated, most homes on the island display stunning Christmas trees.
Kourabiedes and Melomakarona
In Cyprus, food is such an important part of Christmas and so it will come as no surprise that there’s a wealth of tasty festive treats to discover. You’ll certainly fall in love with delights such as Kourabiedes, a sweet treat made from almonds, similar to a shortbread biscuit, and sometimes flavoured with vanilla, brandy or rose water. What makes these delights extra special is that they’re rolled in icing sugar while they are still warm, and so the sugar creates a wonderful caramelised layer. You’ll also want to try Melomakarona, another Cyprus traditional festive biscuit. These are honey cookies, and they’re just so festive, with cognac, cinnamon and orange zest. Once cooked, they are then soaked in honey to give them their unique sweet taste. Delicious!
And onto even more food related traditions, Vasilopitta is a cake that is traditionally baked and eaten on January 1st. Hidden within the cake is a coin and it is said that the person who receives the slice with the coin in it will have a whole year of good luck.
Kalanda are what we know as Christmas Carols. In Cyprus, children go from house to house to entertain residents with their renditions of ancient Byzantine Christmas songs. In return, they often receive gifts such as sweet treats or money.
Kserotiana for Kalikantzari
Returning once again to edible delights, Kserotiana is another traditional Christmas treat in Cyprus. Similar to a doughnut, these small cakes have an unusual use. If you throw them onto the roof of your house, you’ll be giving them to Kalikantzari, the naughty Christmas goblin. Kalikantzari is a pesky goblin and is likely to cause trouble at Christmas time, but if you give him Kserotiana, he’ll leave your home and go and be annoying at someone else's house!
A special time of year
Cyprus is a wonderful place to be at any time of the year, from enjoying the beaches and water sports in the height of summer, to taking picturesque autumnal walks in the Troodos Mountains. But there’s something particularly special about Cyprus at Christmas time. If you ever get to spend the holidays on this beautiful island, you’re sure to have a truly amazing time and make some fantastic memories