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New Year’s Eve traditions and classics – from a Londa Gala Dinner and Cats in Limassol to naughty sprites and lucky cake!

New Years Eve through to New Year’s Day in Limassol, as throughout Cyprus, is the traditional time for giving presents, receiving money and making a wish for love. Popular folklore also tells of dealing with troublesome sprights. This year the only mythic creatures likely to be found are performing in the classic musical, ‘Cats’, on onstage at Limassol’s Pattihio Theatre.

For many couples, it could be the perfect, delightful way to celebrate New Year – theatre followed by dinner… especially if it’s the 6 course Gala Dinner at the Londa’s own Caprice Restaurant. Then welcoming in the New Year accompanied by more dance music classics in the Caprice Bar. “Look, a new day has begun…” as in one of the final lines from “Memory”, a tune from “Cats, the Musical”, popular at the time.

Magical world… brought back to full feline life!

The multi-award winning show opened in London in 1981 and continued to thrill audiences over the next 21 years in the West End, and 18 years on Broadway. Those who have a fond ‘memory’ of seeing the show the first time round will be in for a special treat.

Direct from London with an all star company, and their performances accompanied live by The West End Theatre Orchestra, the magical world of Rum Tum Tigger, Mr Mistoffelees, Skimbleshanks and Macavity is once more brought back to full feline life! This all-time classic of breathtaking dance and acrobatic displays, spectacular costumes and “immersive” scenery is at Limassol’s Pattihio Theatre for one week only, 30 December 2019 – 5 January 2020.

Colourful, energetic creatures of a less benign kind are the “Kallikantzaroi” – malevolent goblins found in south eastern Europe including, Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia. Legend has it that these mischievous sprites “of the night” live underground sawing the “world tree”, and trying to make the Earth collapse.

Enter a house via the chimney to cause all kinds of chaos

According to folklore, Christmas dawns just as the sprites nearly complete the task. They leave the partially sawn tree and come to the surface to prey upon people during the twelve days of Christmas, from Christmas Eve until Epiphany Day, January, 6th. It is said that they enter a house via the chimney and proceed to cause all kinds of chaos, such as extinguishing the fire in the hearth, turning milk sour or even climbing on people’s back to make fun of them!

There were many ways people could try and stop the imps entering the chimney such as, leaving a fire burning in the fireplace all night or preparing a kind of doughnut with honey called “Kserotiana” or “Loukoumades” to throw up onto the roof. Sometimes, people would throw foul-smelling shoes into the fire. Other protective rituals included, wrapping a spring of basil herb, known as “Vasilikos” around a cross and sprinkling it around the house with holy water or even marking one’s door with a black cross on Christmas Eve and burning incense.

These ancient tales may have scared the children but it wouldn’t have stopped them from eagerly looking forward to New Year’s Day. As this was the time they received their presents – not on Christmas Day!

“Ai-Vasilis” places presents for the children under the tree

On New Year’s Eve, after children had gone to sleep, their mother would place a cake with a coin inside and a lighted candle on top along with a goblet full of wine by the Christmas tree. During the night, Saint Vasilis, the 4th century Greek version of Santa Claus, would arrive to bless the cake and drink the wine.

Then “Ai-Vasilis” places presents for the children under the tree. In the morning the children would cut Santa’s cake, known as “Vasilopitta”, and the child who receives the piece of cake containing coin inside would be “lucky” in the year ahead.

Receiving love with an olive tree leaf and “giving money”

Calling upon Saint Vasilis to be “lucky in love” in the coming year was behind another common village tradition. After making a wish to the Saint in which the person – a hoped-for love is named – an olive tree leaf is thrown into the fire. A leaf jumping back out of the fire means the person named is also in love with the one asking the question.

There’s more giving and receiving just days later, on the morning of 6th January, Epiphany Day. This was the traditional time when children would go to their grandparents and recite, “Good morning on this day of light and let us have our gift first”. The grandparents responded by the act of “ploumizoun” or “giving money”. The children would also visit other houses to sing and obtain more gifts of money.

Gifting boutique experience for the culturally curious and luxury traveller

Gifting children with money had other uses too! After Mass, the village priest would do his round of all the houses to sprinkle holy water, a custom known as “Kalanta”. He was accompanied by a child who held a container of holy water, in which, people would throw a few coins as a gift to the priest.

Gifting an ever-growing family of guests with our personalised kind of boutique lifestyle experience is always a pleasure and an honour at Londa! Limassol also promises to provide its own gift of festivals, concerts and exhibitions for the culturally curious and luxury traveller, alike! Once again, as we do every year at this magical time, we look forward to welcoming visitors from around the world for another “sunny Cyprus” season ahead.

Londa Beach Hotel Management and Staff wish all our guests “Καλή Χρονιά!”, a Happy New Year 2020!

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