By Heidi Trautmann
The Olive Festival in Zeytinlik is the last one in a row of many village and traditional festivals. During the festival days, local olive growers wet their appetite for the approaching harvest, eat and drink, discuss weather conditions, and wait in hope for some good rain to fall before they start to pick the olives and rush them to the mills. They say that to minimise the acid content, the olives should reach the mill within a maximum of two days. The green olives have already started to be harvested for preserving and pickling, as I could see on many stands in the Belediye Square in Zeytinlik where the festivities take place.
It was the 9th anniversary of the festival and each year there are new activities apart from cooking contests to contests which have nothing to do with olives but are to entertain young and old, but also planting new trees and discuss the jobs around olives. Dizayn 74, our only pottery in North Cyprus was present again showing the passers-by how to bring up the wet clay with your fingers to obtain pots and plates, vases and cups
Dancing legs and shuffling feet on the stage in the village centre, folk dances executed perfectly by the very young ones, folk dances performed by all age groups, and by invited groups; and the Cyprus Liners again just as last year with their exciting rhythmic leg work. It was Zeytinlik/Kyrenia in a swinging mood, with the hits of the decade; Latino Turco and the tango, couples dancing complicated figures while on the stands around meat is grilled and the smoke gets in your eyes.
I had taken friends to the festival, friends from Nicosia South and they were amazed at the variety of programmes offered: Ballet groups and other dance groups. The area of festival ground was extended, an extra playground for children with illusionists and clowns, face painting. Many more eating places were established and the visitors had paper bags in their hands to taste the many Cypriot delicacies. The place was absolutely crowded when we arrived at 6 pm, especially young people and children dragging their parents to hurry.
In the big tent, which has become an established facility during the festival, Ali Nesim signed his new book in Turkish and English “The Cry of an Olive Tree”, an epic story, a poem. Also Ismet Tatar was there to sign her newly published book about olives in English “The Miracle Olive” (See my reviews on both books in my website).
The festival ended again at the Kyrenia Amphitheatre with Kirac and a Turkish rock concert. What a pity that this place is not being used more. In the meantime summer has definitely ended, the air feels thinner, the sky colours more pink in the mornings and purple in the evenings, and thus this festival and the many dances that go with it herald in the change of season.