Before Christmas day, housewives begin the preparations.
Preparations include cleaning the house, dusting, shining, arranging furniture, baking rusks, and painting the inner and outer walls white.
They used to mix paint with whitewash, so as to achieve the traditional with colour to the walls. They used to add “loulatzi” in the paint so as to achieve the traditional blue-grey colour of the houses of the community.
They would also put leaves from the Indian fig tree inside the paint and stirred it so as to become more solid and be preserved for a longer period of time.
On Christmas Day, people go to church. After Divine Service, they receive communion, which is known in the Cypriot dialect as “paskazo”. After Mass is over, people exchange wishes and kisses then go home and gather around the table in a happy, family atmosphere to eat pork meat.
On New Year’s Eve they would slaughter a pig which they raised just for this occasion and put it in a large cauldron with hot water so to have its hair removed.
With the pig meat they produced bacon, xiromeria (specially prepared pork meat) and sausages. They salted the abdominal area to create what is known as “pasti” and with the head and legs they made “zalatina” which is another traditional food. They hang the sausages high up inside the fireplace so they would slowly cook. The remaining where half cooked and kept inside clay pots “koumnia” along with the fat “larti” to preserve. In this way they had food to last them for a long period.
New Year’s Customs
At noon on New Year’s Day, after lunch, the landlord would cut the Vasilopitta (Saint Vassilios pie) with the hidden coin inside. Whoever found the coin would be the luckiest person of the New Year. According to old Cypriot customs when they returned to their house from church they had to enter with the right foot first in order for everything to go right (well) in the new year.
On New Year’s Day they also played various card games in the village’s coffee shops as well as in houses until early in the morning. Those games where “66”, “39” and “Prefa”.
On Epiphany Day, all housewives bake “kserotiana/ loukoumades” which is a kind of doughnut. Then they throw some doughnuts on the houses’ roofs so bugbears, or else “kalikantzaroi”, would eat and leave. After Mass, the village’s priest goes around the houses and sprinkles people with holy water. This custom is known as “Kalanta”. He is always accompanied by a child who holds the container with the holy water. All people throw some coins in the container, as a gift to the priest and the child. What is more, they offer them “kiofterka”, a traditional treat, raisins, almonds and walnuts.
In Greek “Sikoses” is the period between the Beginning of carnival on Sunday and the following Sunday that is Shrovetide Sunday. During this period, people used to masquerade and go round their relatives and friends’ houses. They celebrated by making pranks and jokes.
On Clean Monday they villagers went out to their fields for the accustomed “moutti tis Sarakostis” eating fasting food.
The days before Easter commences the housewives will carry on general clean-ups of their houses. On Maundy Thursday they dye their red eggs which they will crack after the Resurrection. On Good Friday the bread and “paksimadia” (type of hard, dried bread) are prepared as well as the infamous “flaouna” (a traditional Cypriot cheese-bread).
During this day housewives take boughs from olive trees to church to be kept them there until Whit Sunday. The boughs are hallowed and then taken back to people’s houses so that the family is protected by envy and evil.
On Maundy Thursday the iconostasis is covered with a black cloth as a sigh of mourning. In the evening, a model of the holly cross is placed in church along with a model of Saint John and Virgin Mary on the right and left side of the cross.
Everyone goes to church in order to worship the holly cross and listen to the twelve gospels about the Passion Week as well as Christ’s crucifixion and death.
On Good Friday, in the morning the Sepulchral is decorated with flowers. It used to take place on Maundy Thursday. Young men and women chant the Dirge whilst girls bearing pomades sprinkle pomade, and throw flowers at the Sepulchral. At night, the Sepulchre’s procession takes place around the village.
On Holy Saturday during the morning Mass and when the priest says, “Christ has risen” people make noise with their stools and the black cloth fall off the iconostasis.
A group of people used to go around the village and chant the hymn of resurrection. The people of Kalavasos would offer them a couple of flaounes.
Around eleven o’clock in the evening the church bell calls all people to church, to celebrate the most important and joyful Service.
At the church’s parvis, people light a fire known as “Lambratzia”, a kind of bonfire. At twelve o’clock the priest announces, “Christ has risen” and starts with the vicars the litany procession. People light their candles from the Resurrection’s holy light held by the priest. Outside the church people will listen to the Gospels and chant.
After church people go home, “chink” eggs, and wish each other. They note that Christ has risen, by announcing “Christ has risen” and “he has indeed risen”, accordingly. They also eat a soup with chicken and lemon, known as “augolemoni”, or “traxanas” soup and “flaounes”.
On Sunday everybody will roast their lamb and celebrate the big day all together. In the afternoon, the local council organises events at the village’s square and people play traditional games. These events continue onto the following day.
Traditional Cypriot Wedding
Matchmaking took place through a matchmaker or a ember of the family, who talked to the parents of the bride and tried to convince them. They always considered whether the young man came from a good family, if he had some money and if he was hard working. When he came from another village, then it was the parents’ duty to visit that village and ask people there if he was good or not. Most of the times, the bride’s to be opinion was not considered.
At logiasma, only close relatives were invited, such as godparents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, siblings and the priest, who would conduct a prenuptial agreement. This agreement was regarded legal and this is where the dowry was agreed. After this procedure, followed a feast.
Not everyone was invited to the engagement party. The couple exchanged rings and handkerchiefs. The father of the bride was responsible to provide the house, in which the couple was supposed to live.
Preparations for the wedding
The invitation for the wedding took place a month before the wedding day by the parents of the couple with the use of handkerchiefs, bread and large candles.
On Thursday night all the relatives would gather together to wash the wheat, which would be used for the making of the “resi” (traditional food). On Saturday morning the villagers would again get together to mash the wheat with the “faoutes” (?) (so that the hard exterior of the wheat would break) for the “resi” to cook more easily.
Essential for both of these events was the accompaniment of the violin, the lute and traditional songs.
On Sunday the sawing of the couple’s mattress took place. This festive custom included an orchestra consisting of violin and a lute, dances, songs and “tsattismata” (Cypriot word play singing). The couple’s mattress was filled with pure wool and 5 or 7 young unmarried women or women that were only married once would sew it together. While this was done they kept the musical instruments playing low so that friends and relatives would sing appropriate songs. Relatives would also place money on the bed for the couple, known as “ploumisma”.
Then the in-laws started dancing while holding bed sheets. Just before the dance commenced it was accustomed to put small children on the bed and roll them on it. If they put a boy, they believed that the young couple’s first born would be a boy as well. If they rolled a girl it would be a girl.
Preparation of the bride
On Sunday afternoon, just before the couple went to church, the bride got ready for the wedding at her family house with the help of her maids of honour (“koumeres”). She wore her wedding dress, and they would help her with her jewellery and other decorative items, fix her hair and her father and mother would give her their blessings.
While the preparations took place, relatives and friends would sing to her under the sounds of the violin and lute.
Shaving of the groom
The shaving of the groom took place at his family house included, aside from the shaving, him putting on his suit and grooming. The barber would give him a shave and do his hair accompanied by the violin.
The best man helped him get dressed and sang appropriate songs along with relatives and friends.
The groom was escorted by his parents and relatives, accompanied by violin players from his family house until the church courtyard. Then the bride followed in the same fashion.
After the wedding ceremony, on the way to their new home, the newlyweds would sprinkle people with rosewater. This action was considered as a personal invite to the festivities that were to follow.
If the groom originated from Ayios Demetrios or Kaminaria , when he would arrive at the village riding on his horse, he had to down from his horse at the “Petra Stiti” location and go to the church on foot. If he originated from Prodromos, Lemythou or Paliomylo he had to get down from his horse at the “Anefani” location and from there remain on foot. In the event that the groom did not get down from his hose the wedding was cancelled.
Monday after the wedding
On Monday night after the wedding a dinner took place at the newlyweds’ house. The newlyweds would sit around a table full of spoon sweets (walnut and cherry). The guests would come by to greet the new couple, gave them their gifts (usually money) and took a sweet. A large feast and dances then followed.
Late at night the couple danced and the relatives pinned money notes on their clothes.
Tuesday after the wedding
On Tuesday after the wedding, namely two days after the wedding, all the relatives of the couple would go around the village and collect chickens from everyone, hang them on a stick and took them to the newlyweds’ house so as to cook them and eat them and continue with the festivities.
Antigamos (second wedding)
The first Sunday after the wedding the newlyweds would invite to their home all their family and relatives for a feast. This was the “antigamos”.
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