Traditions that date back centuries are a huge part of the Christmas celebrations all over the world, and here in Cyprus we have some great Christmas traditions that you won’t experience anywhere else. So if you’re lucky enough to spend Christmas on this beautiful island, you’ve got some truly special treats to look forward to. Here are just some of the reasons why Christmas in Cyprus is particularly wonderful…
Cypriot Kalanda – Christmas Carols
Kalanda, are the Cypriot version of traditional Christmas Carols, ancient songs that have been sung on the island since Byzantine times. People gather together to sing these songs, and often children will go door to door around their neighbourhood to entertain residents with kalanda. In return, they’ll be given small gifts of money or sweets.
Agios Vasilis – Santa Claus
Now of course everyone knows Santa Claus, but most people understand Santa, or Father Christmas to be derived from Saint Nicholas. In Cyprus however, Santa is called Agios Vasilis, Vasilis means Basil, and so the Cypriot Santa Claus is actually Saint Basil or Basil the Great. Known for helping the weak and the poor, Saint Basil was famous for using his family’s inherited fortune to help the poor, building a hospital and a hospice on the island. As the feast day for Saint Basil is January 1st, it is on that day that Christmas gifts are exchanged in Cyprus, so if you’re used to having your presents on 25th December, you may have to wait a little longer if you’re spending Christmas in Cyprus!
A gift for Santa - Kourabiedes and Melomakarona
What do you leave out for Santa, a mince pie perhaps? In Cyprus, we leave delicious treats of Kourabiedes and Melomakarona. No Christmas in Cyprus is complete without sampling these gorgeous goodies. Kourabiedes are shortbread type balls of delight made with almonds, and rolled in icing sugar while warm to create a gorgeous caramelised coating. Melomakarona are equally as divine tasting, honey cookies stuffed with dates and nuts and dipped in hot honey syrup.
Vasilopita – A Christmas Favourite
Can you guess who Vasilopita is named in honour of? Yes, that’s right, Agios Vasilis, Saint Basil. This tasty orange flavoured cake is a traditional Christmas speciality and it has a hidden secret. When it is baked, a coin is hidden within the mixture. The cake is then sliced up to be served on the 1st January. Whoever finds the coin in their slice is in for a real treat, as legend has it, that person will have good luck for the whole of the rest of the year!
Having treatment in Cyprus over the festive period?
If you’re visiting Cyprus for treatment over Christmas, we truly believe it’s one of the most wonderful times to visit the island. Now you know what to expect, you can make sure you get to enjoy all the traditions of the island and soak up the magical atmosphere that accompanies this happy time of year. For more information regarding the benefits of Cyprus as a base for your medical requirements, do visit our website for more details or get in touch if you have any questions. For both treatment and recuperation, Cyprus is the perfect destination all year round.
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