Carnival time in Cyprus is nearly here! From the 1st until the 4th of February the town crier will be announcing the Carnival’s arrival all around Limassol. Carnival was celebrated in ancient Greece and organized in honor of the God Dionysos. Ancient Greeks got dressed in various costumes, wore masks, played games and had feasts that lasted for days. The custom and tradition is still going strong today. Carnival in Cyprus is a two-week period of celebrations with a focus on food, festivites and games before the 50 days of fasting before Easter.
The first week of the Carnival is called Meat Week or “Kreatini” since it is the last week for eating meat before Easter. The second week is known as Cheese week or “Tyrini.” The last Sunday of Cheese Week is the highlight of the Carnival and this year falls on Valentines Day – February 14th. This is when the Grand Carnival Parade takes place in Limassol. “Green Monday” or also sometimes called “Clean Monday” always follows the 2 week Carnival festivites which is also the first day of Lent and a National holiday in Cyprus and Greece.
During Cheese week, you will find many seasonal and fresh specialties such as the Greek pastry “bourekia” which is filled with mint flavor cheese or other delicious sweets such as “daktyla”and “kandaifi.” Cheese ravioli is popular at this time and also a pumpkin filled pastry that is not quite as sweet as the others mentioned above. Many Cypriots will pack a picnic on Green Monday and head for the countryside where their picnic feast will include vegetables, olives, bread, salads, local wines, beers and other drinks. You will see the skys filled with kites which is a site to see and island-wide tradition.
Carnival festivities begin on the Thursday of Meat Week. Highlights of the festival include the entrance of King Carnival, the Children’s Carnival Parade, the Serenaders’ Parade and the Grand Carnival Parade of chariots and groups. Festivities take place in towns all over the island, Limassol hosts the most famous celebration and has the most festivities. Larnaca and Paphos also offer impressive parades, fancy dress parties and town decor.
In Paphos, Winters Home Plaza has already started getting in their Carnival Costumes. Their shop is great and located on the Mesogi Road on the way to Polis. Get ready now to have some fun, stay safe and enjoy it!
Some important dates for the upcoming holidays: Sunday 14th February – 1.30p.m. Grand Carnival Parade in Limassol / Monday 15th February – Green Monday / Friday 2nd April – Good Friday / Sunday 4th April – Easter