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Kataklysmos – What Is It, When Is It?

Posted: 13 Jun, 2019. No comments

Kataklysmos is one of many Cyprus festivals. Held each year 50 days after Orthodox Easter, this event has special significance for Larnaka as a coastal town. 


The spoken word sounds like the English word that is derived from the Greek language via French. (Some say that French is mis-spelled English. Others have it that English is mis-spelled French). In any event, our word is a noun,


cat·a·clysm  (kăt′ə-klĭz′əm)



1. A violent upheaval that causes great destruction or brings about a fundamental change.

2. A violent and sudden change in the earth’s crust.

3. A devastating flood.


Used in this context, it is used to describe a devastating flood. 


The date for the event moves in accordance with the calendar of the Greek Orthodox church. It may be held as early as May 10 and as late as mid-June to coincide with Christian Pentecost. 


In 2019 events are planned to take place from Friday 14 to Wednesday 19 June. 


Having established that Kataklysmos, meaning ‘Deluge’ or ‘Cataclysm’ in Greek, some sources tell us that it is a traditional celebration of Noah and his salvation from the Flood. There is also a read across to Greek mythology. Others link the festivities to Aphrodite.


The daily programme will include all kinds of fun water-based activities such as windsurfing, kayak races and swimming competitions. 


At night the coastal promenade hosts open-air concerts and bazaar stalls selling everything from corn on a stick to tacky trinkets.


Since this religious and popular festival is celebrated only on Cyprus, if you are on the island at this time, with its roots in both the Bible and Greek mythology; it would be something to visit, observe and enjoy! 


The Biblical story is found in the book of Genesis 6:5-9:1, describing God deciding all humankind to be corrupt and that he would bring a flood to destroy all life — except for Noah, his wife, their sons and their sons’ wives, and male and female specimens of every beast and fowl. 


Noah, the story goes, built an ark for this menagerie, and they all lived on it while it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, eventually landing, it is thought, on Mt. Ararat. When the flood ended, God told Noah and his family to be fruitful and replenish the earth.


In the Greek story, it was Zeus who decided to destroy the earth because of human wickedness. Floods covered the earth, leaving only a spot of dry land on top of Mt. Parnassus. After it had rained nine days and nine nights, a great wooden chest drifted to the spot. Within it were Deucalion, the son of Prometheus, and his wife Pyrrha. Prometheus, knowing the flood was coming, had told his son to build the chest and embark in it.


The Kataklysmos festivities, held in seaside towns, usually last from Saturday through Monday. They include games, folk dancing, boat races, swimming competitions, feasting, and the singing of tchattista, improvised verses sung in competition and as live music performances by famous Greek and Cypriot singers. Everyone joins in throwing water at each other, which symbolises the purification of body and soul. 


Larnaca is especially known for its celebration of Kataklysmos, and other festivals are held in Limassol, Paphos, Polis, Agia Napa, and Paralimni.



The Larnaka celebration of Kataklysmos is the biggest on the island, and sees the entire Foinikoudes promenade utilised, from stalls along the strip and games on the sand, to a rich programme of performances across its two stages. The event includes a traditional bazaar along the length of the promenade, traditional demonstrations, food, drink, water-based activities and competitions, and a programme of premium cultural performances.


Admission: Free of charge


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