CYPRECO of America, Inc., hosted a successful Folk Arts Program on Cyprus on June 8, 2012 at the Stathakion Cultural Center in New York. Entitled, “Customs and Traditions of Rural Cyprus and the Making of the Cypriot Bread,”the event featured the screening of a very rare hour-long documentary with English subtitles reviving amazing scenes from the Cypriot countryside pertaining to the traditional cereal-crop cultivation and the making of the famous Cyprus bread.
The event which was part of CYPRECO’s ongoing series, “Cyprus, Its History and Culture Through The Ages” and under the auspices of the Cyprus Federation of America, was enjoyed by Greek- and Cypriot-Americans and members of the general audience of all ages. In attendance were also several dignitaries, representatives from local Greek and Cypriot American organizations, including the President of the Federation of Hellenic Societies, Elias Tsekerides and the Consul General of Cyprus to New York, Koula Sofianou.
The importance of this latest production by CYPRECO lies in the fact that it truly contributed to educating the public about some very unique aspects of Cypriot rural traditions which unfortunately in our days due to modernization are becoming extinct or only mere memories among the remnant older generation in the island’s countryside.
It is widely known that since the start of civilization, cereal-crop cultivation has been the most important staple for humans and their livestock. The film truly transported the audience to rural Cyprus giving everyone the opportunity to see and appreciate some of the last remaining Cypriots from the countryside who for years were involved in traditional cereal-crop cultivation. In Cyprus, just like in any other country, wheat was a key factor enabling the emergence of city-based societies at the start of civilization because it was one of the first crops that could be easily cultivated on a large scale. Furthermore, wheat had the additional advantage of yielding a harvest that provided long-term storage of food.
In older times, the cultivation and production of wheat was the most important agricultural activity for every family in the Cypriot countryside and it involved both men, women, young and old, although men played the more important role in the cultivation process. Wheat grew mostly in the Mesaoria, the island’s central plain and production fluctuated widely, depending on rainfall. The long process, leading from wheat to bread including the customs, traditions and even rituals associated with it, was also traced by this film. Apart from the making of bread, the cultivation of wheat was also important to the Cypriot countryside for a variety of other uses. Its straw was used as construction material for roofing thatches, as well as for the making of all sorts of baskets for household use. Some of these baskets were used to decorate their homes.
After the screening, there were greeting messages from the President of the Federation of Hellenic Societies, Elias Tsekerides and the Consul General of Cyprus to New York, Koula Sofianou. A printed program with biographical and background information about the theme of the event was distributed for free to all in attendance.
This latest event, just like several other similar folk arts programs produced by CYPRECO, was by free admission as a public service to the community. It was made possible in part by Arch Capital Services, Inc., the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Astoria Federal Savings Bank and the Cyprus Federation of America. Event sponsors also included Marathon Bank of New York. Media sponsors for the well-publicized event, were AKTINA FM and AKTINA TV.
As announced, CYPRECO’s next production will be a concert/tribute to the legendary bouzouki virtuozo/composer/singer Manolis Hiotis. The concert will take place on Friday, November 9, 2012 at 8pm at the Stathakion. Admission is $25. Those who wish to purchase tickets in advance can call CYPRECO at 718-545-1151 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about this concert and other activities are posted on the organization’s website, www.cyprecoofamerica.com