Easter in Cyprus
Of all the religious festivals in Cyprus, Easter or ‘Pascha’, pronounced pas-ha, is the most sacred. Greek Orthodox Easter falls in May this year and Cypriots will come together to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ with many religious rituals, singing, dancing and magnificent feasts.
Cyprus Easter Traditions
Traditionally there is a period of fasting before Easter that starts during Carnival time and is called ‘Apokria’. Week one of Apokria is known as ‘Kreatini’ or Meat Week and week two, ‘Tyrini’ or Cheese Week. Each of these weeks respectively should be the last time that either meat, cheese and other dairy products are eaten before Easter. However, officially fasting begins on Green Monday which is a public holiday in Cyprus and picnics and kite flying are enjoyed by all.
On March 18th, the official date for Green Monday this year, the Londa Beach Hotel was pleased to offer a sumptuous Green Monday Lunch at our ultra stylish 5 star, award winning Caprice Restaurant. A delicious buffet of dips, vegetables, salads and traditional desserts were on the menu, with the option to include either cuttlefish or fresh fish platter, all expertly prepared by our newly appointed Italian Executive Chef, Giovanni Caracciolo. Needless to say this delicious feast went down a treat with our guests!
As Easter draws near an air of excitement and festivity will embrace Cyprus’ towns and villages, an atmosphere of expectation will become apparent. The Easter celebrations themselves will begin on the day before Palm Sunday, known as the ‘Saturday of Lazarus’. This is the day when children will go door to door collecting eggs and money. On Palm Sunday churchgoers will take home crosses made from palm leaves which they will keep for the rest of the year.
Thursday of Holy Week is the day the eggs are hardboiled and dyed. Eggs that are dyed red symbolise the resurrection of Christ, the colour red representing the blood of Jesus and the egg the birth of new life. The dyed eggs will then be proudly displayed in bowls and baskets until Easter Sunday.
Good Friday, or ‘Megali Paraskevi’ as it is known in Cyprus, is the day of mourning the death of Christ. In the evening the ‘Perifora Epitafios’ takes place, a candlelit procession of a decorated bier or coffin. The streets will overflow with people joining the procession as it winds its way through the streets to church. It really is a wonderful sight to see; flowers and perfume are thrown onto the Epitafios along the way.
On Holy Saturday food will be taken to church to be blessed by the priest and at midnight there’ll be much celebration and rejoicing of the ‘Anastasis’, the Resurrection of Christ. Church bells will ring and candles will be lit, both inside and outside of church.
Finally, the forty days of fasting since Green Monday will be broken by the eating of a delicious lemony lamb soup called Magiritsa, enjoyed with traditional Easter bread and Flaounes, traditional Cyprus Easter cakes.
Greek Easter Sunday, which is the 5th of May this year, will see the traditional Easter Sunday service and the eggs that were hardboiled and dyed on Easter Thursday will be tapped against each other. Whoever is left with an uncracked egg is said to enjoy good luck throughout the year. The tradition of breaking the eggs is symbolic of Christ breaking free from the tomb. Everyone will rejoice with the words ‘Christos Anesti’, Christ has risen and the reply ‘Alithos Anesti’, truly he has risen.
Easter in Cyprus is considered the most important religious event of the year. A time where most Cypriots will take a break from working life in order to celebrate with the vigour and enthusiasm that brings out the colourful and joyful aspects of Cypriot life. In true Cypriot style the frivolity continues into Tuesday evening in village squares and churchyards, with traditional food, games and Cypriot music. Everyone is welcome, whether Cypriot or not!
Why not join us for Greek Easter this year? It’s a lovely time of year to visit Cyprus, not only for the friendly welcome you’ll receive from the locals and the delicious food; the weather is glorious, but not too hot, perfect to explore and discover our beautiful island.
Contact us if you would like to learn more about our Greek Easter packages here at the Londa.