Customs and traditions
In the ethnically and culturally divided
Cyprus, festivities with a religious background have
played a major role in strengthening the identity of
their own group for generations.
All the usual Christian and Muslim holidays are of
course celebrated among the Christian Orthodox Greek
Cypriots in the south and the Sunni Muslim Turkish
Cypriots in the north, respectively. But there are also
festivities with more local roots. This is especially
true of the Greek Cypriots, who since the Middle Ages
experienced how foreign powers occupied their island.
Overview of the capital city of Cyprus, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
For Greek Cypriots, New Year's Day is dedicated to
the Greek Santa, Saint Vasilios, who during the night
puts presents under the Christmas tree, but also a soft
cake called vasilopita that the family eats in the
morning. Somewhere in the cake, Vasilios has hidden a
coin, and anyone who finds the coin in their piece can
look forward to a good and successful year.
The Christian is mixed with the
On the thirteenth day of Christmas, all Greek
Orthodox people celebrate the baptism of Jesus in the
Jordan River. In coastal towns, the priest leads the
congregation to the port after the high mass. There he
blesses the water and then throws in a large cross,
whereupon all young people jump in the water to look for
it. Whoever finds the cross can also look forward to a
The Pentecost is also a weekend that in Cyprus goes
in the water's sign. The tradition goes back to
pre-Christian times, when the feast was dedicated to the
love goddess Aphrodite. However, the Christian feast of
cataclysm celebrates that Noah was saved from the flood.
This weekend, too, will bless those who manage to pick
up a cross from the water. But on the whole, the
Christian element has been at the forefront of swimming
competitions, singing, dancing and the pleasure of
splashing each other with water.
In the Turkish Cypriot North
Among the Turkish Cypriots in the north,
non-religious weekends are commemorative events of
important events in modern Turkish or Turkish Cypriot
history. August 1 celebrates how the Turkish Cypriots in
1958 took up arms against the Greek Cypriot Eoka
guerrillas and on August 30 celebrated the victory of
the Turks in 1922 in the decisive battle of the
independence war. November 15 is Independence Day, when
the Northern Cyprus Republic was proclaimed in 1983.
Food and eating habits
Cypriot food is strongly influenced by Greek, Turkish
and Italian food, as well as by the food in the Middle
East. Among the specialties is the distinctive, tough
cheese halloumi. It is so typical of the island that it
would have been protected in origin in the EU, in the
same way as, for example, Italian parmesan ham or Greek
feta cheese, if only the Cypriot producers could agree
on whether cow's milk should be included in real
halloumi, and if so in what proportions to the goat and
sheep's milk, which are the ingredients of origin. The
application for trademark protection has also been
delayed by disagreement as to whether the identical,
equally Turkish Cypriot cheese hellim should be covered
by the same protection.
A first savings package
The Greek Cypriot Parliament adopts a first savings package to qualify the
country for crisis loans from the EU. The tightening means that taxes on tobacco
and alcohol will be increased, VAT will be increased from 17 percent to 18 per
cent at the turn of the year and to 19 percent in January 2014, and that
salaries and pensions for public employees will be reduced with immediate
effect. The next savings package includes reduced child allowances and reduced
student support, a number of new taxes and reduced salaries for government
Tax agreement with Russia
The Russian government decides to remove Cyprus from its "black list" of tax
havens as of the end of 2012/2013. Four years of negotiations have resulted in a
tax treaty between the countries. Cyprus was placed on the list for its
reluctance to disclose tax information on Russian citizens to the Russian state.
Stimulus package from the government
The government in the south allocates € 300 million to promote new jobs and
stimulate the construction and energy sectors. The package will be financed
through revenues from the oil and gas exploration in the Mediterranean and with
loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB).
Cyprus becomes EU President
Cyprus takes over the EU Presidency for six months. Turkey announces that
during this period it will have no contacts with the Union President, as Ankara
does not recognize the Greek Cypriot government.
The economic crisis deepens
The economic crisis in Greece has brought Cyprus. Cypriot government
securities are classified as worthless and the government is forced to ask the
EU for emergency loans to save the country's hard-pressed banks.
Christofias does not stand for re-election
President Christofias announces that he will resign when his term expires in
February 2013. He will thus become the first head of state in the country's
history that does not seek re-election. Christofias justifies the decision with
the failed negotiations with the Turkish Cypriots. His public support has fallen
sharply due to the country's economic problems and criticism following the naval
Turkey initiates oil and gas exploration
The state-run Turkish oil company TPAO launches test drilling on Turkish
Cypriot land despite protests from Greek Cypriots. The Turkish government is
giving TPAO clear signs to start looking for gas and oil in six areas of the sea
north, west and east of Cyprus.
Netanyahu is visiting Cyprus
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comes to Cyprus. This is the first
time an Israeli government official is visiting the country.
Military cooperation with Israel
The Greek Cypriot government signs a military cooperation agreement with
Israel. Among other things, it should be possible to buy Israeli weapons. The
two countries have for some time been working ever closer together, for example
on energy issues. Israel is interested in drilling for oil and natural gas in
the sea off Cyprus.