Sunday, 13 March 2016 21:11

Getting to the heart of carnival

Stelios Georgiades at the launch of  his book with the Mayor of Limassol Stelios Georgiades at the launch of his book with the Mayor of Limassol

This year’s carnival will start off on a historical note, with a true labour of love dedicated to the important event.

Fourteen years of research and 170 interviews down the line, Limassolian Stelios Georgiades this week launched his book ‘Limassol Carnival, a Magical Story’ at the Rialto Theatre – a venue which has a rich carnival-related history itself as he recounts in an interview with the Cyprus Weekly.

“Carnival balls used to be hosted there over almost half a century!” the carnival fan, who has a passion for history, enthuses.

The book saw its beginnings when Stelios found out that no books existed regarding the Limassol Carnival.

“I felt that the history of this wonderful event needs to be saved. There was not much being done at the time to preserve the archives and the memory of the people, so I decided to do it myself,” he explains.

The colourful 500-page, bound, high-quality book focuses on the last 120 years, but actually goes as far back as the Byzantine era, thus spanning over almost 1,000 years of history. It tells the history of Cyprus itself through the annual carnival celebrations, often described as the most historic and popular intangible heritage of Limassol.

Dedicated research

During his research, he worked with newspaper archives, written and oral history, often confirming dates and facts via written records.

Working as a diplomat at the Foreign Ministry in Nicosia during the week, Stelios spent uncountable Saturday mornings at the library of the Cultural Centre of the Archbishop Makarios III Foundation and later at the Pattichion Municipal Research and Archive Centre.

He also interviewed a grand total of 170 citizens – young, old, Turkish- and Greek-Cypriots, as well as foreigners.

The author started off his research by interviewing some of the old, famous Limassol Serenaders and found them to be an amazing source of information. He was put in contact with more people, old carnivalists, and discovered what he calls “a precious living library”.

He says interviewing these people was one of the highlights of the whole process, “Especially with the older people, I often ended up becoming like a member of their family with a very close and sentimental connection.”

Gaining their initial trust presented one of his biggest challenges.

“Some were quite suspicious of me in the beginning and at first people were getting back to me only very slowly. It took time to gain their trust. I attended all the balls, danced with them, and showed them that I shared their love and passion for the Limassol carnival and their ‘traditional ways’ of doing things.”

Authentic photographs and dialects preserved

Recording some of the interviews in many cases also proved challenging as the writer wanted to preserve the exact way and words of the Cypriot dialect, thus a special team of the University of Cyprus helped with this task.

For the book, the author collected old photographs and commissioned contemporary artists and photographers, used existing paintings and posters and had new ones created.

He also kept a personal diary during the annual carnivals to record and study the various and forever changing aspects.

The book received sponsorship from several foreign and non-Limassolian companies. Stelios is especially thankful for the Limassol Mayor’s support with this matter, but does feel disappointed by the lack of support by local businesses.

Looking ahead

‘Limassol Carnival, a Magical Story’ is self-published and will be available at local bookshops. It will also be online via “The Conscious Trolley” (, a unique new website where buyers can donate part of the price to a cause of their own choosing. A translation into English and Turkish is also planned as Georgiades believes it is an important document in the history of Limassol and Cyprus.

“I’d like for young people to know and appreciate their traditions so they can help safeguard them. I have had the fortune of being introduced to the real principles of carnival and am excited to be able to share them with the public.”

Article as published in The Cyprus Weekly of March 4, 2016 

Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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