Celebrating Christmas in Cyprus is one of the most exceptional things you can do during your travel to the Mediterranean. You are going to interact with people from diverse backgrounds, get to know ancient culture, and try out some of the most exquisite cuisines in the world.

Christmas and the New Year are very important holidays in Cyprus as the local people put on a huge emphasis on these holidays. While there are people that have their own particular traditions that date back to the pagan calendar, many people in Cyprus are religious. Hence, Christianity is often practiced around Cyprus.


This is the advent fast before Christmas, that is very common in various parts of Cyprus. During this period, the family would slaughter a pig and eat fresh meat, which was smoked, cured, or salted. This meat could last them throughout the entire winter period. 

However, these ancient traditions that date back hundreds of years ago have undergone a little modernization–and people are making their own loukanika sausages. People eat these sausages during the Christmas period.

There are a lot of traditional dishes that you can enjoy during your travel to Cyprus. The country is unique and you can get some of the traditional prepared stuff or even purchase them from the local markets.

Further reading: Beware of these dangerous animals in Cyprus

Traditional Christmas cuisine in Cyprus

The Cypriots are very diverse when it comes to their cuisine and you will find people embracing cuisines from Europe, the Arab world, and even the Asian continent.

Christmas baking is very common in all parts of Cyprus and it is imperative to note that it begins a few days before Christmas. The icing, sugar-covered, powdery kourambiedes are baked as well as some of the traditional shortbread biscuits.  The spicy buns are often covered in syrup or honey, depending on the region.

Further reading: Christmas in Bosnia and Herzegovina

There are also special loaves of bread prepared during the forty days of fasting. Christopsoumo or Christ’s bread is the common loaf of bread prepared during this period. The loaves are usually round and decorated with a cross which represents life.

Forty days of Christmas in Cyprus

The Christmas period in Cyprus usually begins forty days before the 25th of December. The Christmas festivities begin with thorough house cleaning, fasting, and shopping.

People in different parts of the country usually embrace this Christmas period in different ways. Depending on the area you visit, you will see distinct features which make it a unique place.

Purchasing new shoes and clothes are some of the most common traditions that you are going to find in Cyprus. On Christmas Eve, the children will move from house to house singing Christmas carols and there is also a midnight mass.

Further reading: Christmas in Belarus

Christmas Eve in Cyprus

The people in Cyprus are very unique individuals because they have different traditions of celebrating Christmas. They also celebrate with certain nativity scenes. 

On Christmas Eve, people will go and look for Christmas trees which are then put in their houses. People decorate these trees differently, depending on the region. 

You will see scarlet and plastic figures, which are installed in large sections around the country. These figures are a depiction of Mary, baby Jesus in a manger, and the animals. Children and young adults decorate the Christmas tree and the house using lights and stars.

Perhaps one of the most common Christmas traditions in the country on Christmas Eve is that people are going to attend masses at midnight. This is a period when they sign Christmas carols and recite poems.

Further reading: Christmas in Armenia

It is a perfect time as well to wrap different Christmas presents and put them in different parts of the house where the family members will find them. For many children, their presents are usually under the Christmas tree or in their shoes.

Christmas day in Cyprus

Christmas day in Cyprus begins after midnight mass, which often lasts until the next day. A family breakfast marks the Christmas day. During this period, Christmas breakfast is served in different variants, depending on the region.

However, the most common ones are steaming eggs with lemon rice soup or what is commonly called afkolemony. There are other delicacies that are served as well such as cold meats, turkey, and roasted goose, among others.

Church traditions on Christmas Day in Cyprus

Beautiful wall decorations in a church on Cyprus.

The main day, which is Christmas day, is often celebrated in different ways around Cyprus.

There is a service which is usually held early in the morning on Christmas day. The orthodox Cypriots usually start with the traditions forty days before Christmas. It is a fasting period that allows the people to interact with their spirituality and their wellbeing. 

During this fast, people usually consume dairy and meat products. Eggs, vegetable oil, fish, and wine are avoided during this period. Once the festive service is complete, the locals will then congratulate each other and wish themselves a merry Christmas. After the church service is complete, the people can then indulge in Christmas feasting and drinking.

In some parts of the country, you are going to find that they leave their doors open for the Mother of God to come into the house. This is a symbol of bringing good luck and prosperity in the new year.

Further reading: Christmas in Andorra

In many areas around the country, people bake and consume the bread of Christ during this period.  In the ancient period, especially in the rural parts of the country, the people shared the bread with their animals and fish by throwing in the sea and feeding them to their domestic animals.

Additionally, there is a Christmas cake called Christopsoumo which is decorated with ornaments, crosses, edible figurines, and even with various storylines depending on the complexity of the baker. It is important to note that there are walnuts that play an integral role in symbolizing the birth of Jesus Christ. In some parts, because of the orthodox traditions and proximity to Russia, they have a Russian eastern cake that has a symbolic meaning which indicates a guarantee of well-being and health. 

Christmas Carols and poems in Cyprus

During the Christmas period, Cypriots enjoy singing Christmas carols and reciting poems. Children often do the Christmas carols as they play tambourines and musical triangles. It is a common culture to give sweets, candy, nuts, and oranges to the children after they have sung the Christmas carols in front of your house.

People believe that the singing of carols brings good health and prosperity in the new year. The local carols are called kananda. In some regions across the country, the locals will visit the graves of the dead relatives where they will lay down flowers and pray for the departed souls to rest in peace.

There is a legend in the country that says the twelve days before Christmas, a mocking and harmful creature called kalikanzari can get into your house. It is therefore important that you have a Christmas tree such as fir and spruce. The tree will guard your house from the effects of evil spirits from different parts of the country.

New Year’s Day in Cyprus

The New Year holiday is an exceptional time in different parts of the country and people recognize it as a major holiday. The Cypriots in different parts of the country enjoy traditional dishes prepared in different ways. 

This festive mood is always present throughout the month of December until January. The local people believe that Agios Vasilis or St. Vasilis is a miracle worker who brings good luck and gifts to the families. During this period, they usually expect St. Vasilis to come during the New Year’s Eve. In the new year, they will bake bread and put on a coin. When they consume the bread early in the morning, whoever finds the coin will be lucky in the coming year.

January 6th in Cyprus

This is the most important day in the country and you are going to enjoy it because it is commonly known as the Day of Epiphany. The Day of Epiphany or January usually coincides with St. Epiphanius Day. 

St. Epiphanius was born in Palestine and at the end of his teen years, he became a Christian. The saint lived a celibate life in the monasteries in different parts of the world and Egypt.

Once he returned to Palestine, he was elevated to the rank of bishop in Cyprus and he was the first canonized archbishop on the island. During the feast of Epiphany on the Mediterranean coast of Cyprus there is a sacrament “lighting of the water”.

On that day, the priests in the region throw a cross into the near water body and thousands of swimmers will swim after it in the hopes that they will have luck bestowed upon them.  On the eve of this event, the women and children usually attend church services and illuminate the water, which is then sprinkled in their homes, and livestock. It is a common belief that they will be blessed when they do this.

Food and drinks in Cyprus

During the forty days of Christmas fast in Cyprus, the local people usually consume an array of foods.

Some of the common dishes prepared in the region include broccoli, lentils, vegetables, rice avocados, pastries, nuts, raisins, and citrus fruits.  

Falafel is a common dish in these parts of the Mediterranean. Lachanorizo is another popular dish that is made from rice and stewed cabbages. 

The traditional dishes that are prepared in the country include lamb dishes, turkey, wild boar, and rabbits, and traditional sweets.

Aurimas Bio

Hi there! I’m Aurimas, a man behind Go Look Explore. I’m passionate about hiking, exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations, and everything outdoors related. Let’s connect.