special food for special occasions cyprus

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The food that is honored in every feast, in every cypriot house is Souvla. Souvla is our traditional grilled barbequed meat. Souvla is placed upon hot burning charcoals and constantly turns round with the help of a special machinery.

Decades ago Cypriot families would raise in their garden a piglet so as to have meet in special occasions. At Christmas the man of the house invited the butcher so as to kill the pig. The whole think was like a ceremony. When the pig was dead, they washed it with hot water, take off their skin and cut it into pieces. They also removed its urine bladder and gave it to their kids who blow it and used it as a ball.

Christmas table is very rich and usually has a lot and different kind of food.Starters Greek saladOlivesYogurt

Main courseSouvlaKoupepiaMakaronia tou fournou (pastitsio)Keftedes (meat balls)Kleftiko (roast meat)

DessertsSpoon sweetsLoukoumadesDachtila (sweet fingers)Pourekkia (Small pastries stuffed with anari cheese)

Traditional sweets that are mostly served on Christmas holidays areMelomakarona (Honey cookies with walnuts)This is an oil-based cookie recipe that produces moist cake-like cookies flavored with orange and brandy that are bathed in a sweet honey syrup and topped with chopped walnuts.

KourampiedesThese are sweet cream butter cookies that are dusted with confectioners sugar.

New Years day

On New years day, after the traditional lunch, we usually cut and share a special pie that is dedicated and named after Saint Vassilios (archbishop of Caesarea in Cappodocia-- hence its name "Vasilopita" meaning "St. Basil's Bread." ). A coin is baked in the cake, and the person who finds the coin in their slice is has good luck for the year!!!

One year, during a time of terrible famine, the emperor levied a sinfully excessive tax upon the people of Caesarea. The tax was such a heavy burden upon the already impoverished people that to avoid debtors' prison each family had to relinquish its few remaining coins and pieces of jewelry, including precious family heirlooms. Learning of this injustice upon his flock, St. Basil the Great, the archbishop of Caesarea, took up his bishop's staff and the book of the holy Gospels and came to his people's defense by fearlessly calling the emperor to repentance. By God's grace, the emperor did repent! He canceled the tax and instructed his tax collectors to turn over to St. Basil all of the chests containing the coins and jewelry which had been paid as taxes by the people of Caesarea. But now St. Basil was faced with the daunting and impossible task of returning these thousands of coins and pieces of jewelry to their rightful owners. After praying for a long time before the icons of our Master Christ and His All-Holy Mother, St. Basil had all the treasures baked into one huge pita. He then called all the townspeople to prayer at the cathedral, and, after Divine Liturgy, he blessed and cut the pita, giving a piece to each person. Miraculously, each owner received in his piece of Vasilopita his own valuables.http://www.antiochian.org/node/18684

Loukoumades (honey balls)

On 6th of January we celebrate the baptism of Jesus Christ. During that day we serve loukoumades (sweet honey balls).

There is another tradition linked to Loukoumades. It is believed that once a year during Christmas, black creatures named kalikantzaroi, come out from the underground to try to mess with mortals. Cypriots bake Loukoumades and then throw them on the roof of the house saying Eat and go. It is believed that If kalikantzaroi eat and are satisfied then they will go back deep to the earth and not make any harm.


During the holy week before Easter, cypriot landladies usually prepare a special chease pie named Flaounes.Flaounes - Easter cheese pies - can only be found in Cyprus. It's our number one Easter treat.

According to tradition, they're baked on Holy Friday to be enjoyed on Easter Day and the days to follow since this Holy Week is also a time to fast and prepare our body for the Holy Communion on Thursday and Saturday.

So we smell there beautiful smell BUT we can not taste them until Easter day that our fasting period finally ends!

Tsoureki (tsoo-REH-kee)is the traditional bread of Greek Easter. Tsoureki is a rich yeast bread flavored with orange and a delightful spice called Mahlab (also called Mahlepi) that is ground from the pits of wild cherries.

On holy Saturday midnight we usually go to the church so as to hear the message from the Holy Gospel that Christ is raised upon death. After that Cypriot families, before night sleep, usuall enjoy a hot plate of lemon egg soup.


Before Chistmas and Easter religion feasts, our Greek Orthodox Christian church urges us to prepare our selves for these Great religion feasts by fasting. The aim of the fast is to make us capable of controlling our bad habits in the sense that by trying to say No to delicious food then you will be able to control your sins and be a better human.We have to say that there is no meaning If you just avoid eating meat and yet you still do all the bad things you do.Not all Cypriots fast.

Fasting periods areEvery Wednesday and Friday40 days before and until Christmas50 days before and until Easter.15 days before and until Virgins Mary Death day.

More or less half of the year days is our fasting period.

Our Church urges us not to eat anything that derives from animal meat, dairy and eggs on fasting days.

Especially on Green Monday, the start day of Easter fasting period, we only eat bread, olives and vegetables. We may not eat anything cooked or fried neither drink alcohol.

Tyrini week (chease week)

This is the final week before the easter fasting starts. During this week we may eat anything dairy but not meat (during previous week people can eat everything).So in this week dairy products are honored. Especially ravioles. Ravioles is a Cypriot pasta dish, similar to ravioli, having its roots probably from the Venetian times. In Cyprus this pasta dish is filled with aged halloumi and the pasta is cooked in chicken broth.


Traditional marriages was a great feast for al the village. All people helped with the food preparation and the feast lasted for 3 days. The traditional food that is common to marriage events is RESI. This is a traditional Cypriot porridge of meat and cracked wheat that is typically served at the end of a wedding party.