The feast of “Kataklysmos”
The celebration of the Flood
“Kataklysmos” (The day of the flood) is a religious and popular festival that is celebrated only in Cyprus, with its roots in Greek Orthodox religion and Greek mythology as well. The celebration of “Kataklysmos” (meaning “flood”), has strong pagan roots relating back to the Greek myth of Deukalion and the ark he built to survive the floods and ancient ceremonies between Aphrodite and Adonis that the ancient Cypriots celebrated in Paphos and Amathus. The festival can also be related to the Old Testament tale of Noah’s ark. The feast is also known as Pentecost or the day of the Holy Spirit as according to the Greek Orthodox religion on this day the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples of Jesus.
“Kataklysmos” is still celebrated with great enthusiasm every year all over Cyprus especially in the coastal cities of the island. Celebrations are held in Limassol, Larnaca, Paphos, Polis, Ayia Napa and Paralimni. The festivities take place 50 days after Easter therefore the date changes yearly in accordance with the date of Easter.
Some customs related to this day still survive. In the past, during this day, there was the habit of people being inundated with water especially young men and women. They threw water on each other to flee the evil energy. That also symbolizes the purification of body and soul.
In Limassol, the inhabitants went to the beach where a variety of games and sports competitions, songs and dances, poetic and musical contests were performed. They dived overboard and threw salt water on each other to be cleared both physically and mentally. A special custom for Limassolians was to board on boats and go to the ships that were anchored outside the harbor in the open sea and they were saying: "We're going to the Big Boat."
Another custom was “the slippery mast”. People placed an electricity pole on jetty or quayside and smeared it with grease. Contestants tried to walk to the edge of the mast and catch a small flag. Only few could succeed as most of them slipped and fell into the water before reaching the flag.
In our days, at the day of “Kataklysmos” Limassolians enjoying seafront promenades where people sell a variety of things such as toys, tools, home equipment and traditional goods and food. Competitions are held accompanied by Cypriot traditional music and songs. Swimming, boat and canoe races are held and dancing groups perform traditional dances of the island.
The Celebration of “Kataklysmos” is an exciting event that everyone has to experience, Cypriot or not!
This information were provided to us by Mr Demetris Theodorou
Collection provided by Cyprus University of Technology
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