by Constantina Georgiou and Theodora Yiangou
Easter in Cyprus is a joyous time of year, since Eastertime is the biggest Greek Orthodox religious feast celebrated with great solemnity. As Easter draws near, an air of festivity envelops the churches and the narrow streets of towns and villages, with traditional smells and flavors having deep roots in the past and reflecting at the same time customs of the locals.
The so called “first Resurrection” takes place on Holy Saturday morning in the church of Ayia Fyla in Limassol, where many women and children have already taken place. During the Holy liturgy, the ‘first Resurrection’ is celebrated in a special way. The kids are holding drums while father Andreas is wandering among the gathered people, throwing laurel leaves and flowers from last night’s Epitaph. The black veils covering the icons during the Holy Week drop and the faithful bang their pews in a triumphant way.
On Pascha Sunday visit Agros [www.agros.org.cy]. Approximately at eleven o’clock you will meet the locals gathered in the church in order to celebrate the Vespers of Love. They bang softly their pews and the bells toll merrily. At the end of the Litany, the faithful celebrate the Resurection and wish each other ‘Christos Anesti’ (Christ is Risen) and ‘Alithos Anesti’! (Truly, He is Risen). The same ritual is about to take place the following day in the Holy Temple of Prodromos and it is repeated for forty days, including all Sundays and other celebrations.
Easter celebrations in Omodos are extremely interesting, as presented by the writer, researcher and political scientist, Costas Papageorgiou.
More specifically, on Holy Friday in the morning, boys and girls are climbing to the loft terraces of the west wing of the monastery and singing the “Lament of the Virgin”. In the evening, lamentations are chanted (short troparia) to the dead Christ and then the Epitaph is carried in litany through the street. If there is a well with water in the path, the Litany stops and the faithful pray.
Οn Holy Saturday in the morning, the women of the village go to the cemetery, clean the graves’ marble slabs and then light the candles. They also repeat the same process early in the evening, before the Holy liturgy of Resurrection, because, as tradition has it, the event of the Holy Resurrection sets free the souls of the dead for the next fifty seven days. In the afternoon, boys and girls light a huge bonfire in the churchyard to burn Judas.
On Pascha Tuesday, the most significant day of the Easter circle according the locals, since the priests are carrying the Holy Cross across the village. Then, the housewives are welcoming them with rose-flower water and men are firing gunshots!
Traditional Easter flavors
During Holy Week there is a buzz in the air of church-going and baking!
In Pissouri [www.pissouri.org] you will enjoy flaounes made by famous, traditional cheese (pissourkotikon).
On Holy Wednesday, in Pachna [www.pachnavillage.com], Vouni [www.vouni.org/history.shtm], Koilani [www.thevillagexpress.com/cyprusvillage], Pera Pedi [www.perapedi.org], Mandria [www.mandria.org] and Kouka [kouka.com.cy], some housewives use to take the chickpeas from ‘arkati’, a special dough, and then they make traditional arkatena bread. On the other hand, when in Apesia [www.apesia.org], you will find their trademark big rotund flaounes, embellished with a frill around them, as Mrs. Androulla Odyssews informed us! On Pascha Sunday, they usually prepare an egg salad with lettuce, fresh pearl onions and vinaigrette.
Start with trachanas soup and then enjoy the variety of Cyprus meze dishes, like egg with tomatoes. Finish your meal with delicious honey balls or honey pie! Make sure to reserve a table beforehand!
Vouni, 25942057 / 99316979
A restaurant famous for its well-cooked, authentic meze. The ribs served here are simply finger-licking! Try honey balls as well!
Agiou Eleftheriou 49, Mouttagiaka Community, Limassol, Cyprus
A well-known tavern in Limassol that combines good atmosphere and good food. Choose between traditional Cyprus and Greek dishes. Cheese balls stuffed with pepper and basil are stealing the spotlight!
Feidia & Polyxenis Diamanti 2, Agios Athanasios, Limassol, 25720692
Lania tavern is serving food in abundance and excellent quality for more than 25 years. Lania Village, 25432398, 99464759
Stou kyr Yanni:
The tavern Stou Kir Yianni is located in a 300-year-old, restored house in Omodos. You will distinguish it for the wonderful wines of its own cellar, the excellent meze, as well as for the enjoyable live music evenings. Try strapatsada, louvana, trachana and shish kebab, all prepared from fresh ingredients picked from the family orchard. Finish your meal with bourekia or Lebanese milk pudding.
Linou 15, Omodos, 25422100
The cozy traditional tavern, once a café and a pub, the last three years is serving delicious meze. On Sundays, here you will find souvla and kleftiko. Also try baked aubergines or grilled Jerusalem artichoke. Last but not least: try honey balls and bourekia.
Afroditis 17, Agios Tychonas, Limassol, 25315115
To Panorama tis Annas:
Traditional Cyprus cuisine at its best! Order koupepia, pastitsio, afelia and accompany your meal with a glass of excellent wine of its own winery. Do not miss the amazing desserts such as kattimeri or spoon sweets!
Arsos village, 99437137
Eliomylos tis Panagias:
Only 15 minutes away from Limassol, the old olive mill of Apsiou village is converted to a cozy, stone-built tavern that serves Cyprus meze and amazing kleftiko!
Apsiou Village, 99645198
In this stone-built tavern you will discover a hodgepodge of Cyprus and international cuisine: from pasta, meatballs, lamb and pastitsio, to deer! In summertime you can also enjoy kleftiko.
Anexartisias, Pera Pedi, 25470536
Local housewives of Ayia Marina Chrysochous [www.agiamarinachrysochous.org] and Pegeia [www.pegeiamunicipality.com] follow a three-week ritual in order to prepare ‘paskies’, (from Pascha = Easter) a type of flaounes containing lamb meat.
However, in Neo Chorio [www.neochorio.org] they use to bake paskies on Pascha Monday, adding to them spices, cinnamon and raisins.
If you stop by Tremithousa, Empa, Chloraka and Tala, you will have the chance to try ‘galena’, delicious, fluffy biscuits made from milk, sugar and butter, very similar to Greek tsourekki.
Other villages of the region are famous for ‘tyropoules’, a more traditional kind of the common cheese pie, made with halloumi cheese, as Mrs. Demetra Themistocleous, a Statos- Ayios Photios local, explains. Also, Anarita [www.anarita.org] and Messana villages offer their own version of flaounes, adding to them some kannaouri!
On Holy Friday, visit Ayios Onoufrios chapel in Kathikas village [http://kathikas.blogspot.com] and watch the reconstruction of Jesus’ path to Golgotha since the mayor is carrying a big, wooden cross across the village.
On Pascha Sunday, in Neo Chorio [www.neochorio.org/history.shtm] and Kritou Terra [www.kritouterra.org] you will enjoy all sorts of games and festivities, such as ziziros and ditzimin!
A stone-built tavern focused on traditional, authentic meze. On Sundays you can enjoy freshly baked homemade bread! Vegetarian dishes also available.
Georgiou Kleanthous 17, Kathikas, 26632076
Here, the food and the service will satisfy even the most demanding clients, who can enjoy both local and international cuisine, as well as à la carte dishes.
Makariou Avenue 14, Poli Chrysochous, 26321328
At Yiannis’, you can order traditional Cyprus meze, grilled options or alternative, vegetarian meals. Great food, excellent atmosphere!
Georgiou Kleanthous 11, Kathikas, 26633353
Retro décor, cozy atmosphere, friendly staff and tasty food that you can enjoy by the fireplace! At Imogen’s you can enjoy Cyprus, Greek Or Egyptian cuisine.
The restaurant offers a variety of dishes, such as wine-marinated pork, sausages or escargots! Enjoy a glass of local wine and finish your meal with tasty honey balls!
Ioanni Agroti 33, Paphos, 26937822, 99586099
Maybe the oldest tavern in town, with quality meze and exceptional atmosphere! Apostolou Pavlo Avenue, 96, Paphos, 26934256
Pagkratios restaurant, located in a 1847 renovated house, serves unique Cyprus meze dishes. 70003757
7 Ai Yiorgides:
Here, you can find traditional dishes with a modern twist, surrounded by authentic rural décor. Don’t forget to taste the restaurant’s wonderful wine!
[Anthipolochagou Georgiou Savva, Geroskipou, 26963176