my Cyprus, my Κύπρος, my Kıbrıs

7 things Greek and Turkish Cypriots don’t know about each other

Dear friends,

For many of us who already have contact with ‘the other’, whether the other is Greek or Turkish Cypriot, the below won’t provide anything of value. However, over the years I’ve realised that there are still many Greek Cypriots who don’t know that Turkish Cypriots speak a dialect, and a whole host of other things. And please feel free to suggest more to add to the list!

  1. Both communities speak the Cypriot dialect; Greek Cypriots speak a dialect of Greek while Turkish Cypriots a dialect of Turkish. In fact, there are over 3,000 common words shared by both dialects. Many Cypriots of both communities have no idea that many of the everyday words they use are common (especially the swear words!).
  2. Many Greek Cypriots believe that contact with the other side and any type of cooperation means legitimizing the breakaway state. This is part of the official narrative of the Republic of Cyprus. Whether this is true or not, Turkish Cypriots sometimes do not realise that this lies at the core of some people’s reasoning for not crossing.
  3. Most Turkish Cypriots are not particularly religious (a Turkish Cypriot friend once said to me ‘how do I know what the hodja is saying, he could be swearing at us’).
  4. Turkish Cypriots DO stand up to Turkey and on many occasions have poured onto the streets in protest. I have heard Greek Cypriots say a number of times that their compatriots never denounce Turkey or do anything to rise against it.
  5. Golifa are shared! Both Greek and Turkish Cypriots make them for memorial services; Turkish Cypriots also make them for New Year’s celebrations.
  6. Some Turkish Cypriots (those of older generations) speak Greek as their native tongue.
  7. Flaouna/pilavuna – yes the traditional Easter cake is shared between the two communities. Flaounes are traditionally made at Easter time by the Greek Cypriot community. While pilavuna, made by Turkish Cypriots, can be made any time during the year. 

12 thoughts on “7 things Greek and Turkish Cypriots don’t know about each other

  1. Steven Comer

    Great post Natalie.
    BTW how did Potamia/Bodamya manage to stay a mixed village after 1974?
    And were there any others that stayed mixed? (apart form the special case of Pyla/Pile that is).

    1. mycyprus Post author

      Hi Steven,

      Unfortunately Potamia and Pyla/Pile are the only ones! This is where things get a bit hazy. Potamia didn’t remain 50/50 but I believe that some Turkish Cypriots remained because they really did feel safe. Potamia didn’t suffer as much as certain other villages.
      Thank you so much for your comment.

  2. Yashar Duyal

    Dear writer,

    Yes Turkish and Greek Cypriots lived together for a long time and hence have so many things in common. This is also true for Greek people in Greece and Turkish people in Turkey in general.

    Again, they share common lands for so many years and historically they lived together as well. I realised this when I migrated to Australia as a Turkish Cypriot 26 years ago.

    To some degree, even Italians and Greek people and Turkish people have common traditions.

    The world is an amazing place! I come and visit Cyprus every year if not every second year. I also always visit south too. I am now in Cyprus as well.

    I would like to know how do Greek Cypriots see themselves compared to Greek people from mainland Greece. My best friends in Australia are Greek and Greek Cypriots as well. So I heard many things but would like to know what others feel or think in Cyprus?

    Many thanks


    1. Philip Christodoulou

      Greek (speaking) Cypriots definitely feel connected to the rest of the Greek world, especially to Greece. But blood runs thicker than water, once you connect with your fellow (Turkish speaking) Cypriots, the bond and connection with them seems so much stronger.

    1. Ardıç Taşcıoğlu

      You can type to Google and find it easily, however there are hundreds 😀 and various sources share different lists but I am sure you can find great lists if you search on google 🙂

  3. Orhan

    Nationalism may linger, but in a world that is blended, it can never survive long term. Ironically, « no man is an island is true ». The United States may have 50 states, but the state bond is no stronger than a religious bond, or an ethnic bond, or a bond of bakers, doctors, merchants. Similarly the EU eliminated borders, only to have them reemerge when economic security became fragile. Different nations have geographical regions with subtle but different cultures, the US has rhe south, the northeast, the west and the midwest, each with a different dialect. Officially as an American, born in NYC, I tell people my heritage is Turkish Cypriot. My parents were from Lefkara, in the south. I am friends with the Greek Cypriots who live in my childhood home in Lefkara. Am I Turkish, am I Cypriot, am I American? I am a citizen of the world.

  4. Ardıç Taşcıoğlu

    Just a feedback,Turkish Cypriots do also make Gollifa for memorial services, like Bayrams or other special days for individuals or families, not just in New Year’s celebrations.:) Thanks for this kind reminder to all Cypriots about our similarities and features that we don’t know about each other!

      1. pieridesgeorge1

        Only Turkish militarism creates problems!
        Turkish Cypriots started to understand it!
        According to a big research which made a few years ago,
        Greek and Turkish Cypriots, have the same DNA!
        Hoping for Peace and Collaboration,
        especially against the Pandemic!
        All the best!
        Freedom to our common country,
        for our common interest!

  5. Belgin Cenkci

    The most important thing that Cypriots do not know about themselves is that they share the same DNA, mostly unique Cypriot DNA, plus various percentages of Eastern Mediterranean, Balkan, Anatolian and Italian DNA. We are genetically the same, just happened to have developed into different identities through the complex history of Cyprus. Anyone who has a 23&me account can see this fact for themselves by checking out their DNA relatives ethnic origins.

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