Christmas in North Cyprus 2015
By Margaret Sheard…..
Despite being a Muslim country, Christmas for expatriates of many nationalities certainly does happen in North Cyprus with many charity and other events in the build-up to Christmas Day and the New Year, which is the Muslim people’s day of celebration as well as also another of our own, so we have the best of both worlds. The local Turkish Cypriots also enjoy the expatriate festivities and it seems very fitting that Father Christmas is actually thought to have originated in Turkey, although very different to the present day character we have come to recognise.
St. Nicholas was a Bishop who lived in the fourth century in a place called Myra in Asia Minor (now called Turkey). He was a very rich man because his parents died when he was young and left him a lot of money. He was also a very kind man and had a reputation for helping the poor and giving secret gifts to people who needed it. There are several legends about St. Nicholas, although we don’t know if any of them are true!
Our seasonal festivities started on Christmas Eve when we went to St Andrew’s Church in Girne for the Midnight Mass (I remember from my youth we called it the Watch-night Service). We found the town a little disappointing with not much in the way of Christmas decorations apart from the individual shops which had displays in their windows and there were very few people around but the local hotels certainly made up for this with their wonderful displays of lights and Christmas scenes.
St Andrew’s Church was full with people of many different nationalities and the Revd. Wendy Hough, and a colleague Edward Jervis who is a retired priest and spends some of his time in North Cyprus, conducted a lovely service with a sermon, prayers and carols. The church looked really nice with candles and lights and with a large congregation it made the service a wonderful occasion. We have also included below a short video clip. Then it was home in the early hours of the morning to look forward to Christmas Day.
Christmas Day was sunny and very warm, which is one of the joys of living in this part of the world. Unfortunately, Chris woke up feeling very under the weather with his ongoing cold, and so this Christmas Day he was not able to join in with our normal festivities and so my sister and I went on our own for our Christmas Day lunch at Al Shaheen Restaurant in Karakum where we had a lovely meal and of course ate far too much. The restaurant was fully booked and so there was a lovely festive atmosphere with crackers being pulled and much laughter from the many people enjoying the day.
Boxing Day and Chris was feeling a lot better so we spent the weekend, which had been previously arranged, at Yesilirmak at Vouni King Restaurant and Hotel. This was a delightful weekend away and I will be writing a separate article about our experience there.
On the way home on Sunday, we called in at Lemar Supermarket in Guzelyurt where some of the staff were dressed as Father Christmas giving out samples of foodstuffs, which again made everything very festive.
Now we have the New Year to look forward to so another celebration coming up soon.
To see some of the highlights of the Christmas festivities in North Cyprus please look at the slideshow below from which our readers can see that Christmas does happen in North Cyprus.