UPDATE: Cyprus rejected the tax levy on bank depositors tonight, and the banks in Cyprus will remain closed until Thursday. I wondered why our local grocery store was a little quiet today. I thought it might have been because of Green Monday’s festivities, but maybe people are spending less in this tough economic situation.
What a strange weekend to celebrate Green Monday/Clean Monday in Cyprus. The European Union announced late on Friday about a bailout plan for Cyprus that for the first time included a tax levy on bank depositors.
It was the talk of the town – everywhere. There were lines at the ATMs as people were trying to pull out cash to lower the tax levy on the bank accounts. International fund transfers have also been frozen. It’s the first time anyone has frozen our assets (electronic transfers have been frozen until this all gets sorted out), which feels a little weird to me.
There were protests at the Presidential Palace as well as the Parliament building; unfortunately, I don’t have any personal photos of those historical moments.
But that didn’t stop us from celebrating Green Monday (Clean Monday) with friends at Machairas Park. We thought we would beat the crowds by leaving in the morning, but once we got there, the place was packed.
The kids enjoyed watching Cypriot children play football, playing on the swings and slides, and flying kites (a Cypriot tradition on Green Monday).
We watched Cypriots grill food on their foukou grills, while we used some instant grills, which got the job done for the chicken, hot dogs, and squid.
On one side of the picnic area, we noticed a younger generation of Cypriots play their Greek pop music from the cars parked near their picnic tables; while on the other side, there was a family that played traditional folk music on an acoustic guitar. It was very interesting to see how Cypriots enjoyed their holiday on Green Monday as we were the only Asian group of families sitting among a sea of Cypriots on Green Monday. That isn’t to say there weren’t other Asian ethnicities at the park, but most of the other Asian groups were hiking around the park.
Traditionally, Green Monday is celebrated at the start of the Lent season for Eastern Christians, but for western Christians, Lent has already started.
And lest ye not forget that there are entrepreneurs out there ready to take advantage of the holiday weekend with ice cream trucks and toys/kites for sale at the park. Although you can’t see them in the picture, there were toy versions of AK-47s for sale.
As usual, our kids passed out from all the fun they had.
And the Cypriot Parliament decided postpone their vote until today, so we’ll see how this all plays out with the EU bailout plan for Cyprus. I imagine more protests are on the way depending on how Parliament votes for or against with a modified version of the bailout plan (and assuming the EU agrees to these changes).