I have mixed feelings about Easter in Cyprus, ever since the first Easter Saturday in 2015 when I went out with friends who were here on holiday. I had been told it is a time of great celebrations, yet all I saw was that nobody was around, and the shops and restaurants were closed (shallow – yes I know …. as a puddle … sometimes)! Nothing exciting happens on Easter Saturday until after midnight, when, like Cinderella I am either in bed asleep or have turned into a pumpkin. The celebrations all seemed to be in March when Carnival takes place, not around Easter weekend itself. I am not a particularly religious person, and have mixed personal feelings and beliefs about this holy festival, but at the very least it’s a long Bank Holiday weekend so I expected much merriment and eating, drinking and dancing.
2015 was my first Easter in Cyprus and the greatest disappointment ever, as my 2 very special girlfriends And I geared up for a BIG Saturday night out, having persuaded Niffa to look after not just H, but their children as well, four kids altogether! Trust me, that was a miracle in itself of all our persuasive powers. I had to say yes to a week in Napa for him and the boys to wangle this one night of babysitting! We spent hours getting ready, hair and make-up just so, all children fed, watered and in bed, pre-going out cocktails, loud music. It was going to be the party to end all parties, we were even going to go clubbing … yes … at our age … I know!! So when finally deemed gorgeous enough, off we headed into Larnaca
The traffic was quiet, bonus I thought! Not really, it was like driving into a ghost town, 80% of the bars and restaurants were closed … at 9pm on a Saturday night, what on earth was going on?! I know, let’s go to Makenzy Beach area – the coolest place to see and be seen, it’s a bit noisy for us old folks and you can’t hear yourself think as my mum would say, but it will be fun I promised them. Imagine my face as I pulled into the car park which has around 3,000 spaces and saw only 2 or 3 lonely looking vehicles … it was like we had stepped into the pilot episode of the twilight zone. Yep – ALL the bars and restaurants here were closed, it was like the unfunniest April Fools Joke but this was no 1st April, I peered around looking for the hidden cameras but there were none. Very confusing.com
It’s Easter Saturday! Bank holiday weekend! Surely everyone should be out, in the UK it’s the second night of three nights of partying – we only wanted one! My friends were horrified, come on, let’s gets this party started, we decided to go back to Finikoudes and just head to any open bar. We found one, but there were very few people in it, and no life to speak of, even the trendy, very expensive back street cocktail bars where they have mixologists instead of bar staff, were shut. A swift drink, then a decision, let’s head back to the village, grab a kebab and a few bottles of wine somewhere, and just have a good girly catch up. So feeling dejected, wearing our finery like cloaks of mourning we traipsed into the first, empty, small bar “so where is everyone?” I asked the barman after ordering our drinks, “Oh, it’s Easter Saturday” he said, “everyone is at home with family, they will be off to church shortly for a couple of hours, then there will be bonfires, and fireworks and feasts later on. In fact if you could drink up, we are about to close, thanks”.
So, that was that, even the kebab shops were closed (at this point I could have cried!), so we ended up back home by 10pm, only 2 hours after we had set off, sober, hungry, make-up off, PJ’s on, and in bed by 11pm (after picking Niffa up off the floor from laughing at us), dreaming of parties and fireworks and feasts. Whereas all good Greek Cypriots, Christians, and other Orthodox religions were in either in church, or at home with their families, but were gearing up for the Easter Celebration of Christo Anesti. At this point I realised I still had a lot to learn still about this little island, where religion, tradition and family is still so important. And Easter (Pascha) is so much more than a long Bank Holiday weekend, and Chocolate Eggs on Easter Sunday.
Love from Nelly x
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