22nd MAY 2007
































CHRISSIE: This weekend is going to be the festival of Kataklysmos and Father Christopher Klitou explains it is a festival that is unique to Cyprus and a few of the Greek islands.
FR. CHRISTOPHER:  I think that first we should explain 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 feast of Pentecost is celebrated 50 days after Easter which the name implies - Pentecosti means the 50th day. The festival of Pentecost has its origin in the Old Testament and it was celebrated 50 days after the Jewish Passover. Then it was celebrated to commemorate the giving of the law on Mount Sinai - God making a solemn covenant with his chosen people - and it was also as a thanksgiving for the first fruits of the earth and a new harvest. With the New Testament the feast took on a different meaning. Christ promised that after his Resurrection and Ascension into heaven he would send another Comforter, the Spirit of Truth who would abide with us for ever. This new covenant was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Holy Apostles and other disciples in the form of tongues of fire. Since that day The Holy Spirit abides in the Church and leads her into all truth, it performs and sanctifies the divine mysteries and through these it sanctifies the faithful. Christ established the Church when he chose His Twelve Disciples, but this was only the nucleus of the Church. The Church as a divine institution was founded by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost so in fact we can say that Pentecost is the celebration of the Church’s Birthday. The Church celebrates her birthday with a two day feast, the Sunday which is also dedicated to the Holy Trinity and the Monday which is dedicated to the Holy Spirit. On the Sunday immediately after the Divine Liturgy, we continue with the Vespers service for Monday which we call the Kneeling service. It is called the Kneeling service because we kneel during the reading of some very long prayers.

Now the festival of the Kataklysmos is 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.

CHRISSIE: This year it falls on the Roman Catholic festival of Pentecost is it linked in any way?

FR. CHRISTOPHER: Yes it is the same feast. Pentecost is always 50 days after Easter and most years the Orthodox Easter is celebrated on a different date than the Roman Catholic Easter. This year we celebrated Easter on the same day so it follows that we also celebrate Pentecost on the same day.

CHRISSIE:  What happens in Cyprus at Kataklysmos?
FR. CHRISTOPHER: Basically Katyklysmos is a festival of water so for many families it is the signal to begin visits to the beach or swimming pools. For those who don’t like water they can stroll along the sea front where they will find hundreds of stalls set up selling various Traditional Cypriot sweets, lace, baskets and other products. It is also time for another family get together so the meat will be on the barbeques served with lots of ice cold beer.

CHRISSIE: I’ve heard that it is lucky to sprinkle family and friends with sea water - why?


FR. CHRISTOPHER:  Sprinkling of throwing water at each other is part of the fun of the festival. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be lucky but it’s great for a few laughs. But 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.
CHRISSIE:  Is there a particular greeting we should use during this festival?

FR. CHRISTOPHER: We don’t has a special greeting for Pentecost as we do for Easter, but we greet everyone with the common greeting that we use for most feasts or anniversaries, just simply Xronia Polla which means many years or many happy returns, and being that Pentecost is the Church’s Birthday, many happy returns is very appropriate. So Chrissie, Xronia Polla to you and all your listeners.