Traditional Easter Games in Cyprus


Folklore Association "Ktima"

Communities Concerned - Bearers of the element:

Communities in the Pafos district: Yiolou, Miliou, Letymbou, Stroumbi, Kissonerga, Tala, Chloraka, Emba, Pomos and Neo Chorio which preserve traditional Easter games and which worked in tandem with the Folklore Association "Ktima" to prepare the application.

Groups and individuals: The Folklore Association "Ktima" which wishes to record Easter games and revive them every Easter, community leaders as well as the inhabitants (adults and children) of every village who play the games thus preserving and carrying on this tradition.


Domain of Intangible Cultural Heritage:

Social practices, rituals and festive events


Date of inscription:



Geographical distribution:

In the past, traditional Easter games were played all over Cyprus. Nowadays they still survive in the town of Pafos and in almost all villages in the Pafos district (Yiolou, Miliou, Letymbou, Stroumbi, Kissonerga, Tala, Chloraka, Emba, Pomos and Neo Chorio etc.), as well as in other areas of Cyprus.


Brief description:

Traditional Easter games constitute an important element of the cultural heritage of our country and continue to fascinate young and old in the communities where they are preserved.  They reveal the way older and younger Cypriot societies used to have fun, the temperament of the inhabitants of those areas and the need people had to manifest their joy for the most important Christian Feast, that of Easter.   They are usually played on Easter Sunday, Easter Monday or even Easter Tuesday after a feast lunch, usually in a village square or the church yard.  In a climate of euphoria, villagers and visitors take part in traditional individual and team games which are mainly entertaining and do not lead to any material gain for the winners.

What is worth noting is that many of the traditional Easter games of Cyprus have ancient Greek and byzantine roots, thus proving the historical continuity of tradition and the significance of socialisation and of collective entertainment at important feasts and events.  Amongst others, these are the games that still survive today:  Avgoullodromies (Egg race), Appiisen o Kamilos (The Camel Jumped), Vatrahos (Frog),  Gaourodromies (Donkey race), gemisma tis stamnas (Fill the jug), Ditzimin (weight-lifting game), Zizyros (Cicada), Lingrin (catch the stick), Mandili (Handkerchief),  Potamos (River), Shyllos tzie kokkalo (Dog and Bone), Sakkoulodromies (Sack race), Sousa (Swing), Skoupa or sarka (Broom), Sytzia (Fig tree), Tris enteka tris dodeka (Three eleven three twelve), Faratzis etc.

Every year at Easter time, all the villagers of all ages are looking forward to gathering in the village square to play or watch the Easter games and meet with friends and co-villagers.  It is commonly the elders who explain to the younger ones the rules of the games.  Moreover, these games constitute one way of exercising both the body and the mind, as many of these games require strength, resilience and wittiness.  Moreover, by continuing to play these games, the older generations are passing on to the younger generations certain values and attitudes.  Discipline vis-à-vis the rules of the games, respect vis-à-vis the co-players as well as the opponents, the spirit of cooperation and working as a team which are required in traditional games, constitute living examples for the young generation.