Tsiknopempti, Carnival and Green Monday - Spring is coming!

I love this time of year in Cyprus, Carnival time, Tsiknopempti and Green Monday and the signs of spring!

Although our temperatures are generally higher than in the UK our winters can feel surprisingly cold, and it they feel worse the longer you live here as you get more used to the summers!  It's hard to explain to someone with snow or frost on the ground but living with central heating, fitted carpets and insulated houses just how cold our houses get in winter,  so the start of spring is very welcome.

As Easter is a big celebration here it follows that the lead up is equally important, and it starts with Tsiknopempti, which this year was the 12th February.   Tskinopempti or 'Smelly Thursday' as it is sometimes known (literally translates to 'the scent of cooking meat' Thursday) marks the last week of eating meat until Easter for strict Orthodox followers and the start of Carnival celebrations across the island.

At Leo's school they invited the parents in for the morning to join them in a morning of games - much like the sports days I remember from primary school but with added souvla and salad!  It was the first time I'd been there for it and Leo was so happy to see my Mum and I watch him playing the games.  I always love to see him in that environment and it never fails to amaze me to watch him talking and understanding everything in a language that I cannot speak very well at all.

The following week is known as 'Cheese Week' and this is the last week of eating dairy products before Lent, and this ends with the big Carnival parades all over Cyprus before the fasting and the solemn time of Lent begins.

We are not Greek Orthodox and I can imagine the boys not being too impressed if they thought they would have to wait 40 days before having any dairy products but that doesn't mean we don't LOVE carnival...

We first watched the Carnival parade in 2012  but for the last two years Leo and I have taken part in the parade, having blatantly invited ourselves to join people - Performers Academy last year and a local school that my friend was walking with the year before that!

This year we got to be honorary members of the Dinotours team for the day as we joined Diego and Loops to walk in the parade.

Image credit: Dinotours Childrens Parties
Leo was a bit unsure as we arrived at the meeting point. I think a bit nervous of the crowds and the loud music but as soon as the girls and the Dino's arrived he had a brilliant time.  As you would expect the parade was late starting and we had to wait over an hour to get moving but he was surprisingly good about it, largely helped by the fact he had the Dino's to play with all to himself!

The drawback of course to being in the parade is that you don't get to see it, especially as we were almost the last float so by the time we reached the end everyone had dispersed into the crowd but I don't think Leo would have had the patience to stand and wait to see them all go past anyway. 

We saw them all waiting to go though, and my facebook feed has been full of them ever since so I think we got the best of both worlds!

Image Credit: What's On Cyprus

We were lucky with the weather after a very cold and windy few days beforehand and escaped with just a few drops of rain,  I had been expecting to freeze but at one point I ended up in a short sleeve t-shirt for the first time this year, and Leo and I shared our first ice cream!

After the crazy day of Carnival the long bank holiday weekend is nicely rounded off with Green Monday, a day when the locals take to the fields for bbq's (no meat of course, just fish) and kite flying.   We joined some friends and had a lovely afternoon with the kids playing in the fields and a BBQ in the street but with an English slant on the proceedings - meat on the BBQ and refusing to go undercover when it started to rain!

Today was a lovely warm day, and even now it's dark it's nowhere near as cold as it has been. No heaters on tonight and I'm only say here wearing two layers so Spring must be almost here!


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