Christmas on the Green line
Around the world in divided countries and in other countries where the “Season of Goodwill” is valued, the seasonal festivities are underway. On the 1st of December in Holland and other countries where he is held dear, Sinterklaas arrived on his boat with Zwartepiet to greet the children and people and in the middle of the night put small gifts in their shoes which become bigger gifts during the celebration of Christmas.
Sinterklaas or Santa Claus are local names of the real life character St Nicolas who was born in Patara now known as Demire in Turkey. He was born of wealthy parents but on their death he used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man.
Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th which is why this coming week is so important in the lead up to the Christmas and New Year Festivities.
Here in North Cyprus we saw Santa Claus arrive on the 1st of December at the Teachers Hotel in Kyrenia to meet the children and give them a small gift and also help Kyrenia Animal Rescue (KAR) to provide Christmas treats for those unwanted but loveable cats and dogs that they care for.
So what happened in Nicosia/Lefkosa the divided city? On Saturday 1st of December on the edge of the UN buffer zone, known as the Green Line, a Traditional German Christmas Fair was arranged by the Cypriot-German Cultural Association and was held at the Goethe Institute.
What a great coming together it was with so many families from both North and South Cyprus coming together to enjoy the seasonal festivities with a German flavour and what a flavour it was, with Bratwurst, Rotwurst and Chocolate Waffles being washed down with Hot Glühwein or German beers or wine in the garden and bar area.
In the hall nearby and outside there were many stalls full of local made jewellery, clothing and of course all of those wonderful Christmas accessories that we all yearn for. With a German flavour there was a wide choice of biscuits, chocolate and wines to take home for the Christmas feast to come.
With the clanging of a bell, Santa Claus came out to greet all those wide eyed children of so many denominations and it was a great sight to see. Nearby were the children’s happy families rubbing shoulders with so many other races in peace and happiness on this wonderful day.
Soon it was time to leave and as we travelled back past Dereboyu Street in Lefkosa, we stopped and marvelled at the Golden Tulip Hotel which had a splendid Santa Claus outside on his sleigh and reindeer which are about to fly away.
Reminding us of the importance of the New Year for our Muslim friends, the hotel has an incredible light show sending out the New Year Greeting for the world at large.
As we came back into Kyrenia on the dual-carriageway exiting at the main roundabout, there was a really wonderful display of lights we stopped to take a photograph of.
Having lived in North Cyprus for a number of years, I know in the next few weeks many more seasonal displays will appear here in Kyrenia and other towns of North Cyprus which will culminate in the Christmas and New Year celebrations, when the Christian and Muslim communities come together to enjoy the everlasting time of peace, hope and friendship.
By Chris Elliott
To read more of the other Christmas events click below: