Celebrating New Years Eve in Limassol: The hills are alive and good children get a lucky gift!


Mostly sunny at 17C – 20C! That’s the forecast for Limassol on New Year’s Eve. Perfect for traditional “first footing”, Mediterranean-style, into 2019. And for raising a special sparkling glass of bubbly wishes for the year ahead at Londa’s New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner on the Caprice veranda. The celebrations continue into the night and the next day with Londa’s special New Years Day Breakfast, Buffet Lunch and A La Carte Dinner…

But hark, listen carefully! No, not the herald angels – but you may just hear ancient Greek goddess, Tyche, gently whispering in the darkness above the tidal swell. Tyche, which means “luck”, was the mythic daughter of Aphrodite and Zeus who governed the fortune and prosperity of a city and its destiny.

Indeed, it’s always a lucky time for all those celebrating the New Year in Limassol – there’s so much to see and do! It’s as if the gods are always smiling upon the thousands of happy revellers who traditionally congregate at Grigoris Afxentiou Square in Limassol city centre – 5.4kms (3.6mls) from Londa Hotel – for fireworks and free wine!

Famous singalong atmosphere at every show

But even before the New Year – in that quiet lull after Christmas as winter seems to quickly count down the short days left – there’s an early party mood coming to town. It will be as if the “hills are alive…” The enduring classic, “The Sound of Music”, which celebrates its 60 birthday in 2019, is to be staged at Limassol’s Pattihio Theatre from 30th December to 2nd January.

Whether the songs from The Sound of Music are some of your ‘favourite things’ or you would prefer to ‘climb every mountain’ in Troodos, there is sure to be many who thrill to the now famous singalong atmosphere at every show.

The Sound of Music was based on Maria von Trapp’s memoir, “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers”, published in 1949. The 1965 American musical drama film starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer was actually adapted from the original Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musical of the same name, which opened on 16 November 1959 in New York City, and ran on Broadway for 1,443 performances.

Fourth greatest movie musical

By November 1966, The Sound of Music had won 5 Academy awards and become the highest-grossing film of all-time – surpassing “Gone with the Wind”. In 1998, the American Film Institute (AFI) listed The Sound of Music as the fourth greatest movie musical after Singin’ In the Rain, West Side Story and The Wizard of Oz. The production at Pattihio Theatre – 3.3.miles from Londa – features a team of 50 from London, and includes the West End Theatre Orchestra playing ‘live’.

Undoubtedly, the Sound of Music story of Maria and the Von Trapp children remains a well-known and enduring favourite over the festive period. But how many visitors know about a very much longer tradition played out by Cyprus children every New Year?

Christmas presents on New Year’s Day

Those children who had been “good” over the past year would be said to be deserving of a gift from Saint Vasilis – the 4th century Greek version of Santa Claus. For nearly 1,700 years, Christmas presents would be received on New Year’s Day – not on Christmas Day. After the children had gone to sleep on New Year’s Eve, a cake – with a coin inside and a lighted candle on top – would be placed with a goblet full of wine by their mother alongside the Christmas tree.

During the night, Saint Vasilis would arrive to bless the cake and drink the wine. Then presents would be placed for the children under the tree. In the morning the children would cut “Santa’s cake,” known as “Vasilopitta”, and the child with the piece of cake containing the coin inside was to be the “lucky one” in the year ahead. The lucky coin must be kept in the child’s possession for the rest of the year, so they will never be left without money in their pockets!

All kinds of mayhem – and as the clock strikes the hour

Another intriguing folk custom concerns the “Kalikantzari”, which according to myth, are mischievous sprites who live in the centre of the Earth. The impish creatures are said to come out to prey upon people during the twelve days of Christmas, from Christmas Eve until Epiphany Day, January, 6th. They enter a house via the chimney and cause all kinds of mayhem, such as extinguishing the fire in the hearth, turning milk sour or even climbing on people’s back to make fun of them!

It was thought that the only way people could protect themselves was to wrap a spring of basil herb, known as “vasilikos” around a cross and sprinkle it around the house with holy water. Another solution was to make a tasty snack with honey called “loukoumades”, which would be thrown up onto the roof to keep the creatures at bay, while singing a refrain.

There will be sure to be much singing of refrains as the clock strikes the hour – not to keep fairytale monsters away – but to ring in a brand new year of rich cultural delights of the luxury boutique kind for all visitors to Limassol.

Londa Beach Hotel Management and Staff wish all our guests a Happy New Year, 2019!

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