Traditions and customs of Cyprus

What traditions and customs are there in Cyprus?

A look at the customs and traditions that exist in Cyprus, an island country in southeastern Europe.

Food in daily life

Fresh salad and plain yogurt accompany most meals, which usually consist of vegetables cooked in a variety of ways, including what both communities know as yahni (with olive oil, tomatoes, and onions).

When people eat out, they often order “meze”, a large collection of small dishes that start with various sauces and salads and end with grilled meat or fish.


Whereas half a decade ago a significant proportion of marriages were arranged (often by the father), this has largely disappeared, although fathers can still exert strong control and influence over marriage choices.

Most people consider getting married to be the normal course of action, so the vast majority do get married; those who don’t are often seen as eccentric or unlucky, or both.

Whereas previously the provision of a dowry was considered mandatory, mostly for women, parents still feel that they should provide as much financial support as possible to their children when they marry. Ideally, the parents hope to provide the newly married couple with a fully furnished house and other basic necessities, such as a car or two.


Cyprus as a whole could be characterized as a fairly casual place. People come into physical contact easily and casually, and personal space is generally not rigidly marked.

There are more formal and polite forms of addressing older people that are used in particular circumstances (for example, towards older people or in a professional situation), but the absence of entrenched historical hierarchies and strong class distinctions allows exchanges newspapers proceed in a mostly casual manner.

Because both societies are small, individuals often know many of the people they come into contact with, thus reducing the need for paperwork. Visitors from larger Western countries often comment that Cyprus seems to be a place where “everyone knows each other”, or even “where everyone is related to each other”.

Religious beliefs

The vast majority of Greek Cypriots are Greek Orthodox, while the majority of Turkish Cypriots are Sunni Muslims.

Secular celebrations

Secular celebrations are mostly national commemorations of historical events, including those in Cyprus itself and those in Greece (for Greek Cypriots) or Turkey (for Turkish Cypriots).

The main secular celebrations of the Greek Cypriots are the following: March 25: Greek National Day (commemorating the start of the struggle for independence from the Ottomans in Greece in 1821); April 1: Anniversary of the EOKA (commemoration of the start of the Greek Cypriot anti-colonial struggle in 1955 by the National Organization of Cypriot Fighters (EOKA)).

October 1: Independence Day (commemoration of the creation of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960); October 28: IHO (NO) Day (commemorating Greece ‘s refusal to surrender to Germany in 1940, leading to Greece’s participation in World War II).

The main secular celebrations of the Turkish Cypriots are: May 19: Youth and Sports Day; July 20: Peace and Freedom Day (in commemoration of the Turkish military intervention in Cyprus from July 20, 1974); August 1: Communal Resistance Day (commemorating the 1958 founding of the Turkish Resistance Organization [TMT], also commemorating the Ottoman conquest of Cyprus and Armed Forces Day).

August 30 – Victory Day (anniversary of the victory of the Turkish army in 1922 against the Greeks, which led to the emergence of an independent Turkish state); October 29: Turkish National Day (commemorating the creation of the State of Turkey in 1923); November 15: Independence Day (unilateral declaration of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as an independent state in 1983).

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