Orthodox Easter in 2024 will be celebrated on Sunday, May 5th. On Cyprus, Easter is the most significant holiday for the Orthodox Church, marked by a week of church-going, fasting, and baking, especially during Holy Week. Homes are cleaned and painted, and new clothes and shoes are commonly purchased for the occasion.
The celebration begins with preparations for Palm Sunday, where intricate “vaynes” (palm-leaf flower holders) are made and flowers are brought to the church. Holy Thursday is known for baking “flaounes,” a type of cheese pastry, and dying eggs, traditionally red to symbolize Christ’s blood. Good Friday is a day of mourning with church visits and the decoration of the “Epitafios” (Holy Sepulchre) with flowers. A solemn procession follows in the evening, with colored lights and fireworks embellishing the event.
On Holy Saturday, the announcement that Christ has left the grave is marked by noise-making in church, and at midnight, the Resurrection is celebrated with lit candles and the message “Christ has risen.” Easter Sunday is a joyous day filled with feasting on traditional foods like roast lamb, flaounes, and dyed eggs, and communities engage in traditional games and social gatherings.
In the villages, after the Easter Mass, there’s a tradition of kissing the Cross as a symbol of renewing friendship, and villagers host lunches where they sit down together, eating and drinking until late. They also engage in various games, dances, and rhymes known as “tchatismata”.
These customs reflect the deep-rooted religious and cultural significance of Easter in Cyprus, with an emphasis on community, tradition, and renewal.