Cyprus, an Island by the Mediterranean Ocean, is nothing short of beautiful. Its traditions, hospitality and food are what has been keeping Cyprus alive for so many years. Many people believe that Cyprus and Greece are the same country, sharing the same language and most historical events; they are, very similar but two very different countries with amazing things to offer. Even though it is a very small Island, Cyprus offers many things to anybody who chooses to visit.
It has, in fact, influenced many other nationalities, traditions, mythological stories that have lived on for thousands of years, and has embedded its history all around the world. For example, the Greek language is split into two factions. The ancient Greek language which was used by the Roman Empire and was their official language of education since 212AD, and the Modern Greek language which is often symbolically assigned to the fall of the Byzantine empire in 1453 but also the language we now use in the 21st Century . It was so influential that a big percentage of the English vocabulary was and is used as a big part of our day to day conversations. It mainly involves technical and scientific terms concerning mathematics, biology, astronomy, physics etc.
A big part of culture in Cyprus revolves around respect, morals and the biggest value of all - family. The word “family”, for the entire Cypriot population is considered to be sacred. Because Cyprus is very much a family-oriented country, anything from the smallest events in your life to the biggest ones are celebrated by all of your close and extended family members. Some further facts, are that the oldest members of each family, mostly grandparents, are considered the wisest, and are entitled to the ultimate respect.
The Cypriot traditions have been around for centuries, and most of them are still being held in high regard and practiced on a daily basis. When it comes to hospitality, guests are treated like royalty. All the food and beverages are brought out, along with the family pictures (needless to say this can be a bit embarrassing). When going out to traditional Cypriot restaurants, ‘’Taverns’’, you are most likely going to get a complimentary glass of traditional Cypriot spirits i.e. Zivania or Ouzo. With the ending of your meal you are given a choice to be gifted either the traditional seasonal desserts, which are usually watermelon and melon, or the traditional cakes called Loukoumi and Kadeifi.
When it comes to celebrations, it is probably the most important tradition to the Cypriot culture. Anything from weddings, birthday parties or even someone’s passing, it is considered an important celebratory moment in one’s life. When it comes to weddings, the bride and groom’s first dance as a newlywed couple get is to dance to traditional Greek wedding music, after which relatives are to join the dance floor and pin money on the bride’s dress and the groom’s suit. Prior to that, when getting ready, the bride and groom get ready in two separate locations in which family members are gathered with the bouzouki a traditional Greek instrument, which symbolizes the departure of the married couple from their parents. In opposition to other cultures, when it comes to someone’s passing the Cypriots believe that it is a "crossing over" into the afterlife.
What Cyprus is also known for, and what most tourists are usually interested in, are the ancient villages, amazing attractions and historical sites it has to offer.
1. Choirokoitia [çiɾociˈti.a] is an agricultural prehistoric village that is believed to hold the very first proof of human occupation. Choirokoitias visitors can explore the remaining site of huts that the people of 7000BC used to live in.
2. Church of Saint Lazarus, first built in the 10th Century, has been a mosque, church and tomb originally meant to house Agios Lazarus by the Byzantines. Saint Lazarus, a big part of the biblical pre-historical events and is held high, even today, by the Christian Orthodoxy Religion. It is considered one of the most respected and well known historical buildings by the Cypriot people.
3. Nicosia, one of the biggest cities in Cyprus, which renewed its title to the Capital city in the 11th Century. With the mixture of its historic and its brilliantly modernized buildings, it has managed to give visitors the essence of the old and the new. However, such beauty and yet so much pain, Nicosia, is the only Capital city in the world which remains occupied and divided by force after the Turkish invasion in 1974.
4. Surrounded by amazing beaches, glistening sand and exotic resorts, this happens to be the biggest attraction to visitors and even, to its own people. Nissi Beach, Protaras, Makronissos, Petra Tou Romiou and Agia Napa are held high in the eyes of the Cypriot people and is the place to be especially during the summer. Even for the Cypriots, they never miss a chance to be a part of the essence gained by being around nature.
Cyprus is the place to be.