Cyprus has been an island invaded and inhabited by many different nations and people throughout its history, and as a result Cypriot cuisine owes a great deal to the external influences that have directly affected it.
Unsurprisingly most of the traditional food and drink in North Cyprus nowadays is very similar to mainland Turkish cuisine, though more modern European influences are now beginning to become apparent, as are Asian influences. You can also find traces of tradition in the food and drink of Northern Cyprus today from as far away as the Balkans and Northern Africa.
There are quite a few public holidays known as ‘bayrams’ in North Cyprus, some of which have been inherited from Turkey and all of which carry very significant meaning.
As North Cyprus is predominantly a Muslim population, there are certain religious holidays that are observed, such as Ramazan or Ramadan. This is a month of fasting followed by celebrations described for Christian understanding as the Muslim equivalent of Christmas. There are also dates in the calendar that pay tribute to landmark historical events such as the TRNC’s declaration of independence.
North Cyprus has quite a large festival scene with events taking place almost all year round – apart from during the short winter months. In terms of culture and festivities, it’s fair to say that North Cyprus is on the international stage and that it boasts some unique and stunning musical venues such as the Bellapais Monastery, Kyrenia Castle and the Salamis Amphitheatre.
These venues not only draw the crowds, they draw some significant names as well, and are famous for hosting both classical and modern music events. Prominent musicians take part in many of these events, and famous Turkish Cypriot national Turgay Hilmi, who himself is an artist of international fame, features heavily in the promotion of these events.
Although North Cyprus is a completely secular state, with therefore no official religion, it is predominantly populated by people of the Islamic faith. However, there are other religions and ethnic groups which are active on the island, and are descendents from the various cultures that make North Cyprus such a mixed and special place to be.