Easter started the week before, with the church open every night for people to attend and vigil in the lead up to the big weekend. On Good Friday night, the icon of Jesus was processed around the village - a great turnout of villagers, and an impressive procession.
Saturday brought an amazing air of anticipation, and by 8.00pm, the village square was filling with men in their dark suits and women gradually filing into the church. Being a ' wet behind the ears' Christian Orthodox Person, I attended with my dear friend Anna - who guides me through the ritual and custom of services - by 11.15pm the church was packed - with many families, the sound of fire crackers outside, and everybody holding an unlit candle.
I have now become accustomed to the gender segregation in church - Men to the front, women to the back, and mixed in the isle between. Clearly it's been this way for a very very long time, so who am I to question? It's just 'different' to my previous experiences.
At 12.00 midnight, the priest passed behind a screen, and shortly after the church was plunged into total darkness, with only the sound of the firecrackers outside. (Power cut, though I, OK, just go with the flow and copy everybody else) - And so we stood, until lo and behold, the priest emerged from behind the screen holding three lit candles, from which slowly slowly the entire congregation lit their own - sort of ' cascade style' - such a moving sight ! The cross and communion vestments were then taken out of the church, and we all processed behind, - struggling to keep our candles alight - meeting at the front entrance for more from the Priest. Suddenly the skies lit up with a superb firework display - Never before have I seen such a depiction of the resurrection - and I have to say I was most impressed - a neck tingling moment!. I have also to admit to forgetting to kiss the icons on entering the church, hopefully as it was such an important event, the good lord will look upon me sideways and make allowances for this novice.
Sunday brought a sort of Cypriot equivalent of the village fete - again in the square. Although the smart programme indicated the start to be 6.00pm, in true Cyprus style it kicked off at more like 7.30, with sack races, egg and spoon races, Stone throwing, and traditional music and dancing.
On Easter Monday , more festivity - a stage was erected in the square - (Kouklia's answer to Wembly stadium?) and the bands played the night away - again much dancing, singing and feasting to be had.
So - my first experience - would I recommend the Cypriot village Easter? - Most certainly yes !