Cyprus Culture

Cyprus is an island rich in culture, boasting many traditions that are still celebrated today. With such a detailed history and having been ruled by many an empire, the Cypriots have emerged proud of their heritage – a true passion that makes a lasting impression.

Culture in Cyprus

Among many of the Cypriot traditions we have chosen to highlight food, dance and music to give you a peak inside the culture in Cyprus:

Cyprus - Folk Dancing

Food: If there’s one thing you are unlikely to get in a good Cypriot tavern then that’s a small portion. The Cypriot diet largely consists of meat and salad and involves appetizers, delicacies and sweets. Mezes epitomize the Cypriot cuisine and are not for the faint hearted; pitta, dips, salad, meats, cheeses, fish and more! Sweets in Cyprus are typically honey-soaked pastries, or sweet fruit preserves. Bon appetit! See page 27 for some more recommendations.

Dance: Dancing is a big part of life and still not deemed as ‘uncool’ for the younger generation, dancing is the backbone of festivals, bouzouki clubs & weddings. Traditional dress is often worn. Look out for the dancing that involves yielding a sickle, sieve or glass.

Music: Traditional Cypriot folk music is very similar to Greek, and is typically played by violin, bouzouki, accordion, lavouto & boulgari and oud. ‘Tsiattista’ singing accompanies music – these are poetic improvisations representing everyday life situations.

Cyprus Nights:  The best way of getting a real taste of Cypriot culture is to go along and enjoy (at least) one of the Cyprus Nights that frequent throughout the summer months. Cypriots love to show off their traditions to the tourists and we guarantee you will leave your Cyprus Night fully entertained, full-bellied and having experienced a lovely insight into the country’s history. It’s a fantastic way for children to learn about a foreign way of life too, especially as children are such an important part of society.

Recommended Cyprus Nights:

  • Bouzoukia at O’Vrakas Tavern in Pissouri on Wednesdays.
  • Kouklia Village Square on Thursdays.
  • Platea Tavern and O’Vrakas Tavern in Pissouri on Fridays.

Customs in Cyprus

We love the little customs in Cyprus, they are what make it unique. Here are a few of our favourites:

Hospitality plays a huge part of Cypriot culture

Hospitality plays a huge part of Cypriot culture

Easter is the most celebrated religious holiday in Cyprus, more so than Christmas. Carnivals mark the start of Easter fasting period (no meat, dairy or poultry) which lasts 40 days prior to Easter Sunday. Easter ceremonies and celebrations are carried out from Thursday right through to Tuesday.

Unlike the western Friday the 13th, in Cyprus (and Greece) Tuesday the 13th is considered an unlucky day and precautions have to be taken in order to avoid accidents and misfortunes.

Hospitality: plays a huge part of the Cypriot culture. Cypriots are welcoming, friendly and love to host visitors. A saying which represents this is ‘kopiaste’ which basically means ‘welcome’ (direct translation ‘make an effort to’) which is used when inviting someone to share food, or inviting someone to your home.

culture in cyprus_evil eyeThe Evil Eye: In Greece and Cyprus, the evil eye is cast on you by someone who wishes you misfortune and bad luck. It is said that wearing a charm that carries an eye on it can protect you from any such curses.

Worry beads (Kompoloi): A collection of beads on a string to be used by one or two hands to pass time, to relax or even to have some fun. In Greek and Cypriot culture the use of kompoloi hasn’t actually got any meaning, but have been very popular for many years.

Name Days: These are celebrated more than birthdays in Cyprus. Children in Cyprus are named after saints, of which there is at least one dedicated to every day of the year, and celebrate their name day by receiving small gifts and having family & friends over for food. It is also traditional that on your name day, you buy the drinks for others, not the other way round.

Bakcgammon: or ‘Tavli’, one of the oldest board games for two players. You will often see Cypriots playing this game in the local coffee shops.

Seven chairs of comfort: There is a tradition in Cyprus that to be  very comfortable in his coffee shop, a man needs seven chairs! One for his stick, one for his coffee, one for each arm, one for each leg and one to sit on.

The seven chairs of comfort

 

Cyprus Facts

Did you know?

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Population: 1.22 million (2020)
Total Area: 9,250 sq km
Water Area: 10 sq km
Highest Point: Olympus 1,951m

Leonardo Da Vinci is reputed to have visited Lefkara village to buy lace in 1481. The gorgeous lace of Lefkara is included on UNESCO’s representative List of Intangible Culture Heritage.

The highest point in Cyprus, Mount Olympus, is 607m higher than Ben Nevis; peaking at a huge 1952m.

The population of Cyprus is a little larger than that of Leeds in the UK, and it is just under half the size of Wales. In 1992 only 4.2% of the population were non-Cypriot, in 2011 the figure stood at 21.4%. Of all countries in the EU, only Luxembourg and Malta have smaller populations than Cyprus.

Cyprus is the 3rd largest island in the Mediterranean Sea after Sicily and Sardinia. In the world ranking, it stands as the 81st largest island.

The word alphabet comes from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet ‘alpha’ and ‘beta’.

Cyprus has abundant sunshine for almost 300 days every year.

The ‘fasting’ calendar of the orthodox church is 48 days before Easter, 40 days before Christmas & lesser fasting periods throughout the year – in total, half the year is taken up by fasting.

King Richard the Lionheart married Berengaria of Navarre at Limassol Castle on May 12, 1191. to date it is the only Royal wedding not to have taken place in the UK.

Cyprus has the most Blue Flag beaches per capita and per coastline length in the whole world.

There is a map of Cyprus on its flag, the only nation to do so until Kosovo did the same in 2008.

Paphos, alongside Aarhus in Denmark, was the European Capital of Culture for 2017. The town of Paphos is also included in the official UNESCO list of cultural and natural treasures of the world’s heritage.

The world’s oldest wine label belongs to Cyprus – Commandaria is the world’s oldest wine, dating back 5000 years.

Copper has been mined in Cyprus for thousands of years. the name Cyprus probably derives from the Greek for copper – kypros.

Cyprus is the 3rd largest island in the Mediterranean Sea after Sicily and Sardinia. In the world ranking, it stands as the 81st largest island.

cyprus map

Pafos 2017 – European Capital of Culture

Pafos2017 logo

Every year the European Union designates two cities within the Union as its ‘European Capitals of Culture’. One city from the North of Europe, and one from the South. What does it mean to be awarded this title? It means that for the period of one calendar year, the city organises a series of cultural events with a strong European dimension, to highlight diversity of culture and a sense of belonging within the European community.

Preparing a European Capital of Culture also presents the city with a fantastic opportunity to generate considerable cultural, social and economic benefits as well as helping to foster urban regeneration, change the city’s image and raise its visibility and profile on an international scale.

In 2013, Paphos was announced as one of the winning cities of the European Capitals of Culture 2017 alongside Aarhus in Denmark – the first time that a city in Cyprus has won, and the smallest city to have won, since the event was started back in 1985. Bravo Paphos!

www.fotolarko.com.cy

www.fotolarko.com.cy

 

Pafos2017’s moto is “Linking Continents – Bridging Cultures” and all events fall under their three main themes: Myth & Religion, World Travellers and Stages of the Future. Open Air Factory is the main concept for the organisation, which is the concept of utilising a network of sections, units and workshops throughout the district (such as streets, school yards, archaeological sites) where people from all walks of life are invited to ‘create’, celebrating the outdoor living culture here, where we are so fortunate to benefit from such a mild climate – after all, the culture here began under the blue skies in the form of ancient open theatres and open markets!

The vision is to turn the city into a living museum of visual arts. So far there have been theatrical performances, dance performances, creative & group art, and more.