The festive season is being celebrated this year on the troubled island of Cyprus by the two communities on either side of the line dividing Greek from Turk.
The festive season is being celebrated this year on the troubled island of Cyprus by the two communities on either side of the line dividing Greek from Turk. For the Greek community, strenuous efforts are being made to ensure that everyone enjoys a good Christmas. On the Turkish side, the traditional feast of Bairman happens, by chance, to fall on the same day.
In Nicosia, the Greeks have lit Metaxas Square with Christmas lights and the sale of artificial Christmas trees is booming -- the cutting of real trees being forbidden after the forest fires which burned during the summer fighting.
At military posts along the Green Line dividing Greeks and Turks, Greek and United Nations soldiers are busy decorating sentry boxes and gun emplacements. In the town, the shops have all the traditional trappings of Christmas - including, of course, Santa Claus himself.
And the thousands of refugees on the island are not forgotten, either. Red Cross and similar organisations have seen to it that the people of the tented camps around Nicosia have at least something of Christmas to cheer them up. And at one camp just outside the capital, the Greek children staged a nativity play for their guests.
On the Turkish side of the dividing line, arrangements are being made to celebrate Bairam.a Nd although the festivities for this occasion are usually less boisterous than for Christmas, the Turks also welcome their feast with strings of lights and other decorations.
But in the Turkish area, there is one small snomaly. The British community in Cyprus lives largely in the part of the island occupied by Turks, and most of them have used their once-weekly passes to cross the Green Line to spend their Christmas in traditional style.
In all, it's a pleasanter, happier season for everyone in Cyprus after the bloodshed and hatred of the past six months.