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25 June, 2024
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Ready to experience Cyprus' Easter? From Holy Light to Resurrection

Embracing centuries-old customs and faith: Cyprus' Easter celebration

Charalambos Stylianou

As spring breathes new life into the world, Orthodox Christians embrace one of their most cherished and vibrant celebrations, Easter.

It's not just about chocolate bunnies and pastel eggs, it's a profound journey from solemn reflection to jubilant rejoicing, steeped in centuries-old customs and deep-rooted faith.

The church is draped in darkness until the moment of the miraculous Holy Light. It's a sight to behold, candles flickering, hearts full of hope.

In the heart of Cyprus, homemakers gather around, their hands stained crimson from dyeing eggs. But this isn't just any dye, it's rizari, made from the roots of various plants. Why red, you ask? Well, legend has it that it symbolizes the blood of Christ, a poignant reminder of his sacrifice. These eggs aren't just for show, they're a symbol of life emerging from the darkness of the tomb.

Ever heard of an egg dedicated to the Virgin Mary? In Cyprus, it's a thing. The first egg painted in every household is lovingly preserved until the next Easter, symbolizing purity and renewal. Before the feasting begins, there's soup, chicken soup or lemon egg soup, to be precise. Comforting and gentle on the stomach, it's the perfect appetizer for what's to come. But let's not forget the star of the show, “flaounes”, those delightful traditional Cypriot treats, shared among the faithful after the Resurrection.

As Good Friday approaches, solemnity fills the air. Women delicately adorn the epitaph while the congregation reflects on Christ's sacrifice.  As Saturday arrives, so does the anticipation. The church is draped in darkness until the moment of the miraculous Holy Light. It's a sight to behold, candles flickering, hearts full of hope. And then there's the unique tradition of burning effigies of Judas, a symbolic casting out of darkness and betrayal.

Then comes Sunday, a day of feasting and fellowship. The smell of lamb roasting on a spit fills the air as families gather around the table. But the celebration doesn't stop there. In village squares and churchyards, Lambris games bring communities together in spirited competition. From egg races to ziziros, laughter echoes through the streets as old traditions meet new friendships.

Orthodox Easter isn't just a religious holiday, it's a tapestry woven with threads of faith, tradition, and community. From the solemn rituals of Maundy Thursday to the joyous celebrations of Easter Sunday, it's a time to reflect on the past, celebrate the present, and embrace the hope of tomorrow. So whether you're dyeing eggs in Cyprus or enjoying soup with loved ones, remember, Easter is more than a holiday. It's a celebration of life, love, and the enduring spirit of faith.

Cyprus  |  Easter  |  Jesus  |  faith  |  church

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