TRADITION & CULTURE
Turkish coffee was first introduced in Cyprus by families emigrating from different parts of Anatolia during the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Ever since, Turkish coffee became an integral part of Cypriot culture; on a daily basis, people meticulously go through the ritual of preparing Turkish coffee at home. In the past, the process of making coffee at home was initially an arduous process: it consisted of roasting green coffee beans in pans, grinding the roasted beans with hand mills and cooking the ground coffee on burning coal. All of this was just to enjoy a small cup of this divine beverage.
Serving the guests candied fruits, sherbets and coffee is a traditional display of hospitality. In the past, the social status and age of a guest would determine the importance of the guest. The serving would usually begin with a local beverage perhaps a Turkish coffee, lemonade or rose sherbet and continue with fruit madjun (candied fruit). Walnut madjun would be the most important dessert to be served as it is the most costly and laboursome in making. Other common fruit madjuns are made from bitter orange, bergamot orange, grapes, water melon, squash, figs, etc.
The fruit madjuns are still widely served to guests as a part of the Turkish Cypriot tradition. The madjuns are served separately in their special plates with a madjun fork and a glass of water. The guest can dip the fruit in the water if they wish to wash down the excess syrup from the fruit.
*Basket photos from www.hasder.org
Basket Weaving & Wickerwork
Basket weaving and wickerwork play an important role in reflecting Cypriot tradition and even today, centuries after the tradition began, baskets continue to bring traditional colour and practicality into the homes of Cypriots.
Up to present times, baskets were widely used to carry various agricultural produce including olives, carobs, almonds, grapes, etc. The size, shape and design of the baskets were determined by the functionality. One can still see baskets being used widely especially in villages. Today, baskets and wickerwork are are seen as an important reflection of tradition thus making the smaller sized samples a perfect souvenir reflecting Cyprus.
*Lefkara Lace photos from Lefkara Lace Cyprus Handicrafts
A traditional Cyprus embroidery, Lefkara Lace is a kind of needlework embroidered on Irish linen with cotton thread. Dark greenish-brown and white are the two main colours that are used for embroidering the patterns on ecru coloured linen. Although the patterns are geometrical designs repeating themselves, they each have a different name. Despite of the fact that many patterns and embroidery techniques have disappeared over the years, today, there are only eight to ten patterns that are being produced and passed on from generation to generation.
Lefkara Lace derived it name from Lefkara village, where it is said to have been embroidered first. It is a small, barren village on the outskirts of Trodos Mountains where the Venetians used to visit as a holiday venue. Adapting the embroidery techniques of Venetian Lace, embroidered by the Venetian ladies, into their own embroidery known as ‘white embroidery’, the local women created the lace work known as Lefkara Lace today. Although fifty years ago the linen and the thread were also being produced on the island, today ‘Irish Linen’ and French thread is mostly used.
The oldest story told about Lefkara Lace dates back to the Venetian (Renaissance) period telling us the origins of our widely known authentic lace work. It is reputed that famous artist of the Renaissance period, Leonardo da Vinci visiting the island bought a large size table cloth, which he later gave to the Milan Cathedral as a present. It is also said that he made use of the patterns on the table cloth in his unfinished oil painting called ‘‘Last Supper’’ he had been painting on the wall. Today, this pattern which is known as ‘‘dere’’ (stream) is also known as Leonardo da Vinci pattern.