Geia sas! I am Stefanie and I will be your local guide in Cyprus.
My ultimate goal in life is to travel around the world. When I am not traveling, I am organizing my next trip.
Even though Cyprus is small, I am here to prove that it's actually a rich and diverse country! You can also follow my adventures at Stef's Journey.
Latest posts by Stefanie Konstanta (see all)
- 10 Traditional Dishes You Have to Try in Cyprus - January 24, 2018
- Twelve Days of Christmas With the Scary Goblins, Kalikantzaroi - December 27, 2017
- Cyprus: The Top 10 Attractions - December 2, 2017
Throughout the world, numerous legends and myths, as well as folklore tales are believed in, regardless of where they originated from. As hundreds of years go by, people in various countries change the stories a bit and adjust them to fit their own culture. Essentially, it’s the same story – though told in another country, to another generation, and maybe even another religion. One of such stories is the tale of the Kalikantzaroi in Cyprus.
Kalikantzaroi in Cypriot Folklore
People believed that some truly ugly creatures visited the Earth on the 25th of Christmas for twelve days. We call these malignant goblins kalikantzaroi or skalapountaroi in Cyprus. They live under the Earth for the entire duration of their visit. Kalikantzaroi are frightful hairy goblins with pointed ears, a long tail like the devil’s, big sharp teeth and a huge nose!
There are several names for these grisly creatures. Most commonly they are known as kalikantzaroi. Some also call them kalakantzaroi, skalapountroi, sklaopountaroi, planitarioi and many other names, depending on the country’s region.
Before Christmas, kalikantzaroi spend their time by a tree which is said to hold the Earth. Hence they will saw the Tree of the World so that it would collapse along with the Earth and humans. Every year they get really close to their goal of bringing down the Tree of the World.
On the Christmas day, they will start sawing the Tree, since they are allowed to go back to the Earth for twelve days only. Because it’s goblins’ only chance to bring trouble to Earth, they won’t miss their chance to pay us a visit. Though, once they go back to the centre of the Earth (their home), they eventually discover that the Tree of the World has been fully restored!
So on the Christmas Eve, these evil goblins will start their big journey from the underground. The legend says that they are so jealous of the World, that they want to completely destroy it. Thousands of goblins will arrive to the surface of the Earth from various canyons, wells, caves, warts and any other type of natural hole one can think of. Also, since Kalikantzaroi are very scared of light, they will hide really well during the daytime.
Kalikantzaroi bring trouble to people
Once the night comes, kalikantzaroi are ready to disturb people. The mischievous creatures are not very dangerous, but they make sure to leave their footprints everywhere and to torment mortals. They can sneak into people’s homes from the chimneys, keyholes, window hazards and from anything else they can think of. Despite being quite harmless, they would make a very big mess in the house. They would spill all the liquids, eat whatever is within their reach and will break anything they can get their hands on.
A century ago, our ancestors genuinely believed in the existence of these evil goblins and even took some precautions to keep them at bay. Some believed that Kalikantzaroi could crawl to one’s house through the sink hole. My grandmother laughed when she told me that when her generation used to bathe – they would use holy water to keep these nasty creatures away. And some folks even refuse to bathe during these days!
Also, if anything happened to people during these twelve days – goblins would always be blamed for misfortune. Depending on which town or village people came from, they would have their own stories about these creatures. Everyone also had his or her own unorthodox way to protect herself from these goblins.
Today, kalikantzaroi are nothing more than a good Christmas tale inherited from a past generation. No one really believes in goblins’ existence anymore. However, even-though we no longer believe in them, they are still a very big part of Cypriot folklore. We have books dedicated to these creatures, stories told by our grandparents and even some traditions that we still keep up to date.
For instance, a day before Epiphany, the housewives in Cyprus will make some ball-shaped honey-soaked doughnut puffs, called loukoumades. They will place the first serving on the rooftop of their house. Then the housewives will chant: “titsin titsin loukaniko, kommati xerotianon na fasin kai na fiousin, na pasin ston agyristo” . Translated as: “Let them eat sausages and loukoumades so they can go straight to hell”!