Christmas is a low key affair compared to the hustle and bustle of some other countries - of course central to any celebration the observances of advent and Christmas at Church, and strong family links, bringing families together to share company, and the traditional feast of souvla, mezze, accompanied by the ' best' Chivas Regal, and plenty of local wine and Zivania, until the dancing kicks off in true Cyprus Style.
We Ex Pats have done our best - no doubt as I have, year on year - trawling around shops for Cranberry Sauce and Chestnut stuffing,the trappings which make our Christmas ' traditional' for us. - and passing on the word ' they've got mice pies' here or there ! - but nothing tastes quite the same on a sunny day as it does ' in a bleak mid - winter'.
Perhaps a visit to the Troodos mountains is the answer - where we can find snow and ice, and make footprints in the snow like Santa does.
Here father Christmas (St Vasilios) is actually celebrated at New Year, - his name day - although family presents are exchanged on Christmas day also.
It has been highly amusing in the past week or so to see the mix of clothing of people visiting Kouklia Square - I see the recently arrived tourists and some Ex Pats - in shorts and tee shirts - determined to make the most of the strong mid day sunshine - and then the locals, wrapped up in Jumpers and warm jackets, and feeling the difference in temperature from searing summer and autumn heat. - I have to admit it is more difficult to choose a daily wardrobe at this time of year!
There are, of course, no Christmas Carols other than sung by Ex Pat Choirs, but the Church bells at 4.00 in the afternoons, and chantings of the Priests remind us that it is a special time of year.
Many English residents have now returned to UK to spend the season with families there, - at this time of year the community is therefore ' more Cypriot' in number.
Thankyou to the locals who have brought gifts of cake, home made sweets and preserves - the traditional offerings of friendship. It can be hard to be 2000 miles or more away from loved ones, particularly at this time of year, but for me anyway the extended Family of local friends brings a warmth to the Christmas season to match the mid day sunshine.
Where ever we are, it is Christmas, and of course the first Christmas happened not so very far from here - a leveling thought - maybe it was even a little warmer there !
Seasons Greetings from Cyprus - where ever you are.