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Question 344

Today in Cyprus we celebrate the festival of Kataklysmos perhaps you could enlighten us?  



Answer to Question 344


 In Cyprus the Monday of the Holy Spirit is also known as the Kataklysmos. This is not a religious festival but rather a folklore festival so before I explain what this is I must stress that the Church celebrates the Feast of Pentecost and not the festival of the Kataklysmos even though the two have become as one feast.


The festival of the Kataklysmos has become associated with the feast of Pentecost, but is it something completely different. Kataklysmos means a disastrous flood and it refers to the Old Testament Flood during Noah’s days when God punished the world by sending a flood over all the earth. In Cyprus, there must have been a pagan festival to ward off another flood which was celebrated around the same time as the Christian feast of Pentecost. When Cyprus became Christian the pagan feast was replaced with the Christian feast, but it left behind traces of its origin.


Basically Katyklysmos is a festival of water so for many families it is the signal to begin visits to the beach or swimming pools. In Limassol and Larnaca along the sea front hundred of stalls are set up selling various Traditional Cypriot sweets, lace, baskets and other products. The Monday is a national holiday so many families take the opportunity of the long weekend to get together for barbecues and lots of ice cold beer. The main custom of the day is to throw or sprinkle each other with water and kids have a great time squirting us with water pistols. Sprinkling or throwing water at each other is part of the fun of the festival and it’s great for a few laughs.


Now even though the festival is not Christian in origin we can give it a spiritual and Christian meaning: Christ said that “whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life” and “He that believes in me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this he spoke of the Holy Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive.” Christ symbolically speaks of water as representing the Holy Spirit, so pouring water on each other can be symbolic of the pouring out and receiving of the Holy Spirit which is the theme of Pentecost.