With daily temperatures in December averaging at 20 degrees, more Blue Flag beaches per kilometre of coastline than anywhere, cuisine that takes is inspired by three continents and traditional Greek Orthodox festivities to enjoy, Cyprus offers the perfect destination for a last-minute Christmas getaway.
It’s only a four-hour flight from the UK and with operators and hotels offering fantastic deals at this time of year, it’s worth extending your stay for New Year’s Eve too.
Charming and traditional processions, usually attended by carols – or “kalanda” – handed down from generation to generation since the times of the Byzantine empire, make their way across the island with the main Christmas day procession held in Nicosia in Eleftheria Square.
Most hotels provide some entertainment, perhaps with traditional music and activities to get everyone into the Christmas spirit. There will be traditional Yuletide festivities or perhaps you’ll indulge in a spa treatment before Christmas lunch? Well, there’ll be something for everyone’s idea of a perfect Christmas.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without food playing a very important role. And, of course, Cypriots take this very seriously, indeed!
Christmas (Christouyenna in Greek) starts on Christmas Eve when loaves of Christopsomo (Christ Bread), are eaten with dried figs, nuts and honey. Familiar dishes like stuffed roast turkey, chicken or lamb are served on Christmas day, often with all the trimmings, too!
Lovers of deserts can indulge themselves with local cakes such as ‘kourabiedes’, a delicious small almond cake coated in icing sugar and there’s the ‘melomakarona’, a rather special honey cake.
New Year very important for Cypriot families, as 1 January marks the Feast of St Basil, the region’s equivalent to St Nicholas, and it’s then that presents are exchanged. Some of the best New Year’s Eve parties on the island are around the Town Hall in Limassol but don’t fret! There’s never a shortage of celebrations, with most big hotels hosting parties.
A must for New Year in Cyprus is even more cake. In this case it is Vassilopitta, or Saint Basil’s cake, which is baked with a silver or gold coin and promises to bring good luck to the person who finds it!