Christmas is a truly magical time in Cyprus with so many traditions and customs that date back centuries. Some will be familiar to you, for instance in Cyprus we also hang our stockings up for Santa Claus to fill with treats, and we decorate a tree in our homes over the festive season too. However, when you celebrate Christmas in Cyprus, you’ll also be introduced to some traditions that you may not have experienced before and we think you’re going to love it all! Here are just some of our favourite things about Christmas in Cyprus…
Food play a huge role in Christmas in Cyprus with a great deal of preparation going into it to ensure that there are delights aplenty to see everyone through the festive period right into the new year. One such delight is kourabiedes. This is a sweet treat made from almonds and is similar to shortbread, made into crescent shapes or round balls. They may be flavoured with rose water, vanilla or brandy, then while still warm, rolled in icing sugar so it slightly caramelises.
These honey cookies are packed full of ingredients that invoke the tastes of Christmas. They’re stuffed with dates and nuts and made with orange zest, cinnamon, ground walnuts and cognac. What makes these extra sumptuous is that when they are cooked, they are then soaked in a hot honey syrup for a few seconds.
This fun traditional cake is baked on the 1st of January and needs to be eaten with care, because inside one slice will be a coin. The person who finds the coin, tradition has it, will be lucky for the whole year to come.
- Kalanda (Christmas Carols)
Over Christmas time, children will go from house to house singing kalanda, Cypriot Christmas carols which have been traditionally sung since Byzantine times. In return for singing kalanda, the children receive gifts of money and sweets.
- Kserotiana – Kalikantzari & Loukoumades
Kserotiana and loukoumades are similar to a doughnut and they are steeped in Christmas tradition. It is thought that if you throw a few of these onto your roof at Christmas, the naughty Christmas goblin Kalikantzaroi will eat them and then leave you in peace, going off to cause trouble elsewhere and not in your home! It’s important to make plenty though as you’ll want some for yourself too as they are so scrumptious!
Combine your healthcare with a festive stay in Cyprus
Christmas time is actually ideal for visiting Cyprus for your healthcare needs. It’s the holiday season so you’re likely to already have some time off work and Cyprus is beautiful at this time of year. The main tourist season is over so the island is so calm and tranquil, perfect for recuperation. For more information regarding spending Christmas in Cyprus, check out the Cyprus Health Services Promotions Board website.