Christmas Day is nearly here, and at Londa Hotel… all is calm, all is bright! There’s anticipation in the air – perhaps it’s the temperature of 20C outside! Limassol is currently enjoying days forecast to be even more “sunshine and pleasant” as the big day approaches. We hear that snow recently fell over Britain – along with the mercury dipping below zero – and more is expected. We feel sure that one of the reasons why visitors and guests love spending Christmas in Cyprus is so that they can enjoy all the fine seasonal trimmings in the “warmest” of traditional Mediterranean style – and no icy polar blasts.
Guests at Londa Hotel can soak up the gentle sunbeams skating across a hazy blue skyline while enjoying their Christmas or New Year One Night Package including Breakfast, Afternoon Tea and Gala Dinner in the Caprice Restaurant. There’s also a feast of luxury experience for the cultural explorer to discover in how traditional Cyprus likes to “eat, drink and be merry” at this special time of the year.
Long held folk traditions are also observed in the villages
During the preparations for Christmas, the rich sweet aroma of baked “kourabiedes” and “melomakarona” mingles with the Mediterranean sun-warmed winter air. Especially across the many villages to be found nestling in the mountain areas of the island. Kourabiedes are a type of light shortbread, typically made with almonds, and shaped into crescents or balls and baked till slightly golden, and sometimes flavoured with brandy, such as Metaxa, vanilla, or rose water. Melomakarona are Christmas honey cookies made with flour or semolina, cognac, cinnamon and olive oil, filled with dates and nuts, and then immersed in hot syrup made of honey and sugar.
While Christmas in Cyprus is traditionally a religious celebration, other long held folk traditions are also observed in the villages, such as the ‘Olive’ game. Participants cross a leaf of the olive tree by a fireplace, which is thrown into the fire after making a wish to Saint Vasilis, the Greek version of Santa Claus who lived in the 4th century, and was known for his care of the poor and underprivileged. If the leaf jumps up after being dropped in the fire, the participant sees it as a sign that the person named in their wish loves them.
Cyprus also has its own version of the Christmas elves, called “Kalikantzari”, which according to myth, are mischievous and even dangerous sprites who prey upon people during the twelve days of Christmas, from Christmas Eve until Epiphany Day, January, 6th. It was early on the morning of Epiphany Day that grandfathers and grandmothers would also give money to their grandchildren.
Universal themes, musical classics and super troupers!
The child, of course, is the enduring, universal theme of Christmas. The perfect occasion to present “Peter Pan”, the story of the eternal child, written by JM Barrie in 1904, whose adventures in Neverland with Tinkerbell and Captain Hook have continued to delight and intrigue generations of children and their parents ever since. The production was recorded live at the National Theatre, London and is presented with Greek and English subtitles at the Rialto Limassol (approx. 5.3 kms / 3.3 miles from Londa Hotel) on Saturday December 23rd at 18:30.
Three days before – on Wednesday 20th at 20:30 – the Rialto plays host to another favourite at Christmas – the musical classics, which will be played over 75 minutes by the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra. Among the popular festive tunes such as “Little Drummer Boy”, “Silent Night” and “Jingle Bells”, there will be excerpts from Bach’s Cantata No. 51, “Sleigh Ride” German Dances by Mozart and a selection from Aaron Copeland’s “American Songs”.
A classic selection of tunes of a different kind will sure to be wowing everyone attending a special performance of Abba’s “Mamma Mia”, which is to be screened direct from the stage of the London smash hit musical to the Limassol Pattihio Municipal Theatre. From December 29th 2017 until January 5th, 2018, the officially licensed production, which comes to Cyprus for the first time will feature all the ABBA favourites, such as “Dancing Queen” and “Super Trouper”.
However, it will be ‘super troupers’ from the Russian Circus on Ice who will be taking their turn first to dazzle and delight their audiences at the Pattihio Theatre, when for two days only, they present “Alice In Wonderland” on Dec 23 and 24th. Featuring more than 300 new, incredible costumes, scenery and spectacular lighting effects, the breath-taking acrobatics combined with ballet elegance are Christmas cultural treats that should not be missed.
After all, it’s the only reminder of snow and ice that visitors to Limassol will have when they celebrate a traditional Christmas, Mediterranean style!