Check in to make merry
“I’ll be home for Christmas,” Sinatra sang, and for most people, it seems, that is still the preferred option. Those of us privileged to live in North Cyprus have all the ingredients for a traditional British or Scandinavian celebration. You may have to go to a specialist butcher to order that turkey, and if you want a real Christmas tree instead of that big, colourful artificial one from the gift shop, well – we are surrounded by pine forests!
In this Muslim country, Christmas is of course, not an official holiday. New Year is the Big One. On December 25th, banks, shops and public offices are open and people go about their business. Yet, their is clearly a “Christmassy” vibe.
Our Turkish Cypriot friends have adopted the season with relish. Fully embracing “goodwill to all men,” they decorate their homes, invite friends and family and exchange cards and gifts.The shops are garlanded and lit while outside, giant inflatable Santas and luminescent reindeer stand guard. Those oh-so-familiar carols and pop songs stream through the air. If it wasn’t for the sunshine, you might think you were in a suburban British high street.
The luxury hotels are the ones that really go to town. Five star establishments used to catering to international demands turn themselves into a Winter Wonderland to lure foreigners and locals alike to the delights of the Christmas Package.
This is basically an overnight stay, or longer, with the options of lunch, dinner and breakfast on Christmas Eve, and/or the day itself. They are star-studded affairs with entertainment and dancing- and a surefire way to avoid the washing up! So popular are these packages that the hotels start advertising in September – and you thought Christmas comes earlier every year where you are?