Easter at Londa has finally arrived. So too, the guests and visitors who are enjoying a welcome spring break with us here in Limassol. Many might also be looking forward to taking part in some of the cultural traditions of celebrating Easter week in Cyprus. And through the summer season too. We’ve heard that bookings for holidays in are up 40 per cent on last year, according to UK travel agents.
On the morning before Good Friday – or “Great Friday” as it is known – families carry flowers to decorate churches around the island. Preparations for Páscha (pronounced PA-ska), as Easter is known in Cyprus, actually began with the traditional carnivals and parades at the end of February, of which, the Limassol Carnival is one of the most well-known of the celebrations.
An enthusiastic week of meat-eating followed by a week of eating cheese and dairy foods precedes 40 days of fasting. Known as ‘apokria’, the fast begins on ‘Green Monday’ when people traditionally go on picnics and fly kites. With meat and dairy foods off-limits, instead, hundreds of bakeries prepare a wide variety of dairy-free, egg-free and meat-free pastries, and cookies.
Traditional Cypriot pasties and sweets baked just for Easter Sunday
Everywhere on the island, the air is filled with the heady aroma of traditional Cypriot pasties and sweets baked just for Easter Sunday. From Holy Thursday onwards, heated ovens are loaded with ‘flaounes’ – small triangular-shaped loaves made of flour, eggs, cheese, mint and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Other savoury delights include ‘paskies’ (small meat pies), ‘koulouria’ (biscuits made of milk, flour, spices and sugar), and ‘tiropites’ (small cheese pies in puff pastry). The bread and pastries are decorated with eggs, dyed red, blue yellow and green, and displayed in bowls and baskets ahead of the traditional, festive games on Sunday.
Guests at Londa Beach Hotel can also enjoy flaounes and experience more culinary treats from the traditional Easter Day menu, Cyprus-style. The Caprice – our in-house restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean – has created a special Holy Saturday After Mass Breakfast and Easter Sunday Lunch Buffet, which will be served on the terrace.
Being located at the very southern edge of Germasogeia does not mean that we are not at the centre of most cultural or sporting events held throughout the year in Limassol. Easter is no different!
Games and music are played in village squares right across the island
Just a few kilometres north of Londa Hotel, at “Hunter’s Park” next to the Germasogeia Stadium, the resort area is staging the traditional Easter games, which will include fun sack races, egg-and-spoon races and orange and lemon games. Those seeking a different kind of cultural experience will also have the opportunity to enjoy a programme of dance featuring the Swing Latino dance school, based at the Germasogeia Cultural Centre.
It’s celebrations now all the way. From Sunday lunchtime until Tuesday night, games and traditional Cypriot music are played in village squares and churchyards right across the island.
The fast is traditionally broken with the partaking of ‘magiritsa’, an Easter soup, with flaounes and Greek ‘tsoureki’, a sweet, egg-enriched bread. In the afternoon, traditional ‘souvla’ – large pieces of lamb, pork or chicken cooked on an open charcoal fire – are consumed with salads, cakes, sweets, and alcoholic beverages.
If you’re wondering about the eggs, which were hardboiled and dyed on Holy Thursday – they’re now used in a game where they’re hit against each other and whoever is left with an un-cracked egg is the ‘winner’.
To all our guests at Londa Hotel and visitors to Limassol – a Happy Easter or ‘Kalo Pascha’ – as the greeting is more likely to be heard in Cyprus.