Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean, attracting over 2,000,000 visitors every year. The island has something for everyone including friendly people, an amazing coastline, stunning mountain village, family resorts, marinas, a booming agro-tourism scene, world class spas and award-winning golf courses designed by golfing legends. On your bargain holidays to Cyprus, sample tradition Cypriot cuisine and follow the islands new wine trails celebrate the 40 new wineries which have developed on the island in recent years. Six wine routes criss-cross the island, taking in some of the best boutique wineries. Cypriot wine production dates back nearly 5,000 years. The warm waters of Cyprus are perfect for diving and water-skiing while those seeking adventure can explore this beautiful island on trekking or bird-watching tours. Read more »
Archive for the ‘Traditions’ Category
Because Cyprus has been under the control of lots of different nations throughout its long history, it’s unique cuisine has been influenced by the like of Britain, Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Syria, Lebanon, France and Italy.
Cypriots make the most of their fresh produce and the abundant seafood, vegetables, pulses, grains and meat that make up the basis of the Cypriot diet.
The traditional Meze is one of the most famous concepts behind the way Cypriots eat. Dining meze-style is a great way to try a wide variety of Cypriot cuisine.
A traditional meze session could include dips like tahini, taramasalata and plenty of bread, olives, spanakopita (a spinach and feta cheese pie wrapped in filo pastry), vine leaves stuffed with rice and meat, yemista (stuffed vegetables with lots of garlic), casseroles and stews, and the famous souvla (chunks of meat threaded on a spit and grilled over charcoal).
Because Cyprus has a dry, sunny climate herbs, figs, dates, almonds, olives and beans thrive. Tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and avocados grow all over the island and form the basis of a lot of Cypriot dishes. During the summer months black cherries, apricots, grapes, peaches, nectarines, and green and purple figs thrive and will be on many a Cypriot menu.
Halloumi is the famous traditional white cheese of Cyprus (made from sheep’s milk) which has been made on the island for hundreds of years. Halloumi is a very versatile cheese and is eaten in Cyprus grilled, fried (in slices as part of a cooked breakfast), in salads, and stuffed inside ravioli.
Lamb and beef are popular all over the island but pork is only eaten on the Greek side, due to the religious beliefs of many Turkish Cypriots. Goat and chicken are also popular. Seafood from the Mediterranean is eaten all year round and includes sardines, calamari, octopus, whitebait, sea bass and swordfish.
Cypriots drink a lot of strong, sweet coffee in kafenio, their local coffee shops. Coffee is normally served with a glass of water on the side.
Wine has been produced in Cyprus for thousands of years, the island being famous for Commanderia, a sweet dessert wine.
Christmas (Christouyenna in Greek) is a great time to vist Cyprus.
Temperatures are normally around 20 degrees during the day and that is why many people spend their Christmas holiday in Cyprus. The sun is shining, you can relax and chill out on one of the lovely beaches and have a dip in the beautiful sea.
Christmas is celebrated as a religious holiday and on Christmas Eve everyone goes to church and many children go from house to house singing seasonal carols (kalanda).
Cypriot families celebrate the 12 days of Christmas which end with the feast of Epiphany on 6 January.
Goblin-like spirits known as kallikantzeri make a lot of mischief during the twelve days of Christmas and many homes protect themselves by wrapping a sprig of basil around a cross and then sprinkling it with holy water. The water is then sprinkled in each room throughout the 12 days of Christmas.
Traditional Christmas Food
An enormous amount of cooking and hard work goes into Christmas as it’s one of the most joyous times of the year.
Loaves of Christopsomo (Christ Bread) are eaten on Christmas Eve and dishes such as stuffed turkey, chicken and roast lamb are traditionally eaten on Christmas day.
Also very popular are the traditional mezes and cakes such as kourabiedes (small almond cakes coated in icing sugar), melomakarona (honey cakes) and Finikia (walnut cakes).
Christmas and Pomegranates
Over the Christmas period pomegranates are eaten and also used for decoration. Pomegranates are associated with Greek mythology and Persephone and the Underworld and they are also a symbol of joyous times, good fortune, fertility and prosperity and associated with the gods Demeter, Aphrodite, and Hera.
Children receive their presents on New Year’s Day as this is the day of Ayios Vasilis (St Basil) the Greek Santa Claus.
When all the children have gone to sleep a cake (with a coin inside) and a glass of wine are placed by the Christmas Tree.
Ayios Vasilis (St Basil) drinks the wine and blesses the cake and places presents around the tree. In the morning the Christmas cake (Vasilopitta) is cut and the one who finds the coin will be lucky all year.