Being an expat I have experienced Christmas and New Year the Cypriot Way three years in a row now.
The first Christmas I spent here was in 2008. It consisted of my dad’s family squashed round a table with mountains of food overflowing on the table. Most of it meat. Lamb souvla, chicken souvla, boiled chicken, pasticho, stifado, koubebia…you get the picture. Now not to sound ungrateful, but I was used to Turkey being the only meat available at the Christmas dinner table. I also wanted crackers and paper hats and noisy party blowers and my mum’s Christmas CD playing on repeat. There was none of that. There was a small Christmas tree in the corner of a dark room, no decorations and certainly no Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas’ blearing out of anywhere! Very different to what I had been used to my whole life. At home, we used to stretch out the eating ritual for a couple of hours. I would normally receive a lecture from my dad as to where my life is going, everyone would laugh, my dad and uncle would pretend to argue over football or politics. Then we’d play charades, monopoly and cards. Watch tv, fall asleep, then wake up and do it all over again till the early hours of Boxing Day! But anyway, like I said not to sound ungrateful, I stomached what I could of the meat mountain and went home after an hour!
So for this year and last year’s Christmas, I offended the whole family by spending my Christmas in the Corfu Tavern in Oroklini, Larnaca. Roast dinner, all the trimmings, live music and an open bar meant I had a great time! When you can’t be with family and friends in the UK at such a family oriented time, its nice to be with others in the same boat as you, there is a common ground already established and everyone just wants to smile festively and have fun!
The only down side for me is New Year’s Eve. It is so different in Cyprus, well in Larnaca anyway. Last year I made the mistake of going to the Finigouthes. After the fireworks at midnight, everything was closed. Closed on New Years Eve! I couldn’t believe it! I think I must be going to the wrong places. What’s the best way to get that New Years Eve buzz in Cyprus? Are the clubs & bars better for celebrating in other towns? Let me know as I don’t want to see in 2012 the same way as I saw in 2011 – in my local bar which doubles as a nut house! lol.