Cypriots - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. The Turkish Cypriote are Sunni Muslims, while Greek Cypriote are practitioners in the Orthodox Church of Cyprus. The Orthodox Church of Cyprus is a part of the Eastern Orthodox Church, but it was granted auto-cephalous status in A.D. 488. The Greek church emphasizes the mysteries of faith and the performance of ritual. The veneration of icons is a strong characteristic of the faith. Turkish Cypriot beliefs are also devoutly held, but they place greater emphasis on "works" than do precepts of the Greek church. Fasting, almsgiving, and the making of a pilgrimage to Mecca are all important, as is true throughout Muslim society. There are a few Maronite Catholics from Syria, Roman Catholics, and Anglicans on Cyprus as well. The small Armenian Population participates in the Armenian (Gregorian) Apostolic Church.

Religious Practitioners. In the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, the highest spiritual authority is held by the archbishop, who, during the Ottoman Empire, was also made responsible for the secular well-being of the faithful and given the title of ethnarch. The spiritual leader for the Muslim community is called the mufti.

Ceremonies. Within the Orthodox Greek communities, ritual expression accompanies the seven sacraments of baptism, confirmation, confession, Communion, marriage, ordination, and extreme unction. Easter is the most important of the ceremonial occasions on the liturgical calendar. For the Turks, Ramadan is of special importance.

Arts. There is a strong respect for the arts in Cypriot Culture, and cultural support is provided through both Individuals and the government. Theater, writing, painting, and sculpture are strongly encouraged.

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