It’s a day off today in Cyprus. Wonder why? Well, let us tell you…
Following the chain of Christmas and New Year festivities, on the 6th of Janury comes the Epiphany day, which celebrates the baptism of Christ, or “Fota”, as they call it in in Cyprus, which means ‘the light’. The most interesting ritual on this day is the “blessing of the waters”, performed by an Orthodox priest. In seaside or lakeside areas, there is an event where the priest tosses a blessed cross into the water and swimmers jump in the water to recover it. It is believed that the person who captures the cross and returns it to the priest will be blessed for the whole year.
On the eve of Epiphany, kids sing the ”kalanda” songs to receive sweets, cookies or money in return. Everyone spends time in the harbour area and wanders around dressed in their best clothes and enjoying a tray of traditional lokoumades (tiny honey-soaked doughnuts). Some of older Cypriots just quietly wash their fruit and vegetables in the blessed seawater which is believed to bring a bountiful harvest in the autumn.
There is another interesting belief associated with Christmas and Epiphany – the little mischievous goblins called Kalikantzaroi appear from the middle of the Earth after Christmas and cause troubles to good citizens, that is why Cypriots throw sausages and goodies on the house roofs to please them and keep them at bay ))) But the bright lights (“Fota”) of the Epiphany chase them back to the middle of the earth for another year.