Panigyria – There is always a Saint to celebrate
Heartland of Legends villages come alive on several occasions with colourful festivals and cultural events. Whether you are a local or a visitor, you will be warmly invited to join in the fun. The Cyprus Orthodox Church has a pivotal role in everyday life, therefore, the patron saint of each village is celebrated triumphantly with a traditional religious fair called panigyri.
Panigyria play a significant religious, social and commercial role in the rural life of the island. These fairs usually take place around the celebrating church or at a central square. The celebration starts in the evening of the previous day with Esperinos, the evening service of the Vespers, during which Litania (icon procession) takes place. Litania is usually held outdoors, around the church or along the streets of the village. Litania is followed by Artoklasia, another liturgical action where a table is set in the middle of the church with five loaves of leavened bread, bottles of wine and olive oil, offerings which are blessed by the priest.
Panigyria are the time to socialize in a lively and colorful atmosphere. The festivities include music, songs, dances, poetry recitation and the traditional “Tsiattista” (improvisational exchanges in verse). Children enjoy the shadow theatre performances or “Karagkiozis” (name of the principal character) with his escapades, conflicts and adventures.
Carts will be set up around the church and the surrounding streets, selling traditional food and sweets, such as loukoumades and shamishi, nuts, grape based products like palouzes or soutzioukkos or other local products of each area. Vendors also sell all kinds of odds and ends, such as jewelry, paintings, homeware, books etc. Don’t miss the different game carts and try your luck in Kazanti, an old numbers game where players shoot a small metal ball on a makeshift pinball apparatus and win a prize if the ball lands on their chosen number.
Panigyria are part of our tradition with some of them listed on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List, like the fairs of Saint Fokas in Athienou or Saint Loukas in Aradippou. During panigyria people flood the churches and the adjacent streets, walk around, meet and mingle, make new friends and enjoy themselves.
Live the experience
- May 21 – St. Konstantinos and St. Eleni in Tsada village
- August 15 – Dormition of Virgin Mary Feast in Kykkos Monastery, Chrysorrogiatissa Monastery (near Panagia village) and Chrysospiliotissa church (Deftera village)
- September 2 – St. Mamas Feast in Peristerona village (Pafos district)
- September 8 – Nativity of Virgin Mary Feast in Arakapas village
- September 14 – Exaltation of the Holy Cross Feast in Omodos village and Pano Lefkara village
- September 22 – St. Fokas Feast in Athienou village (UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage)
- October 2 – St. Kyprianos Feast in Menoiko village
- October 18 – St. Loukas Feast in Aradippou village (UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage)