Celebrating The Easter Weekend in Cyprus
Last weekend, many Orthodox Christians celebrated one of the most important religious holidays – Easter. In Cyprus, Easter does not end with resurrection of the holy spirit. The following day is called Easter Monday, and is given the same significance as Easter itself.
Christianity in Cyprus is the largest religion making up 78% of the island’s population. The largest branch is the Greek Orthodox Church, while the rest are the smaller religious groups of the Anglicans, Roman and Latin, Armenian Apostolics and Greek Evangelics.
Many Orthodox churches around the world celebrate Easter Monday, which follows immediately after Easter Sunday. On this holy day, people who live in Cyprus and Greece, have an official day of rest for all businesses and shops. This Orthodox holiday is a very quiet day when people can postpone their affairs and spend time with family.
For those of faith on the island, Easter Monday signifies a reflection of the events that occurred during the Holy Week: it is believed that on this day it is necessary to eat any unhealthy or fatty items left after Easter, something that was not eaten the day before. Unlike the Holy Saturday, which is distinguished by strict fasting. Therefore the Easter Monday menu typically includes fish, sponkopitu (spinach pie), dolmadakiyu (stuffed grape leaves) and loukoumatas for desert (deep fried honey balls).
According to many Orthodox Cypriots, Easter Monday is also called “Green Monday” or “Bright Monday” in other countries; this is due to the fact that the next Monday after Easter falls on a “bright week”, a seven-day period that begins on the previous Sunday. For many Orthodox Christians, fasting and mourning are coming to an end, and it’s time to focus on joy and happiness.
Interesting facts & demographics
As an official holiday, Easter Monday is celebrated in such countries of Europe as: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Romania and Ukraine. As a rule, schools, banks and state institutions are closed on this day. Some embassies of the countries leave the list, for this reason travellers should familiarise themselves with the schedule of work of a number of consulates.
In countries such as Australia, Canada, the UK and the US, the Easter holidays are not officially recognised. However, Easter Monday is still a time for families and friends related to the Orthodox faith in Cyprus, as it allows you to relax and ponder over the past week.
The symbolism of Easter in Cyprus
One of the most common Orthodox symbols of Easter in Cyprus is the colour red, which symbolises the blood of Christ. The egg was also an important icon in the mythologies of many early civilisations and was associated with spring fertility rituals.
To this day, many Orthodox Christians knock eggs against each one another, with the one with the unbroken egg considered to be the winner and lucky one.
In Cyprus and Greece, eggs are usually painted on Holy Thursday, and the colour selected predominantly is red and gold. According to legend, the Virgin Mary painted the eggs in red to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ and thereby honour life.
One of the most common Christian symbols associated with Easter is the lamb. He is often portrayed with a banner carrying a cross, this phenomenon is known in the Bible as Agnus Dei, which in Latin is translated as the Lamb of God. The origin of this symbol is associated with the Jewish Passover. In ancient times, during the festival, the Jewish people sacrificed a lamb. In early Christians, sacrifice with a lamb was associated with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.