So, Easter is less than two weeks away and throughout North Cyprus, people are making plans to celebrate … or should that be three weeks?
In our increasingly diverse little country, religious festivals can be confusing. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus: the clue’s in the name. Primarily, this is a Muslim country, where one might expect the big Christian festivals to go unremarked. But the Turkish Cypriots are an easygoing lot, certainly not dogmatic about these things and more than willing to share good times with their European friends.
This is most evident at Christmas, which, here at least, has become a universal excuse for partying and gift-giving. Meanwhile, the celebration of Easter, which Cypriots on both sides refer to as “Pascal,” is also becoming more widespread.
And the notable increase in the number of Russians and other eastern Europeans who mark Easter a week later than the western church, makes it a prolonged event.
We also have the Maronites. These charming people originated in Lebanon and have been settled in Cyprus for more than 700 years. Although they speak Greek, they cling to their own highly-embellished form of Catholicism. Most now live in the South, but they return to their traditional homelands in the north-west of the TRNC for their holy days. At Easter they perform a moving and spectacular torchlight parade carrying a figure of Christ on the cross around their cathedral in the village of Kormakitis.
The British, well they revel in Easter egg hunts, supposedly for children, but it’s not unknown for older ones to join in!
Of course, you don’t have to be religious to enjoy the Easter break. Many will take up the special offers from beach resorts and hotels, eager to pull in some extra custom early in the year. For example, one beach and spa complex near Bafra on the east coast, is advertising two nights bed and breakfast for two people, with spa treatment, massage, Turkish bath and indoor pool, for just £145 Sterling.
Wellness” and health-related holidays are proving increasingly popular in North Cyprus. The Karpaz Gate Marina lures guests with a ‘farm to table’ vegetarian menu, and various spa and hamam treatments, “designed to help you unwind and soothe your mind, body and soul.” Whether its tucking into a chocolate egg or looking to a more profound experience, North Cyprus has much to offer for Easter.