Famagusta Orange Festival

From Kevork K Keshishian's book: Famagusta Town and District, Cyprus: A Survey of its people and places from ancient times. Published by the Famagusta Chamber of commerce& industry 1985. Kevork Keshishian a Cypriot Armenian photographer and author of the series of tourist guide books Romantic Cyprus as well as other books.


Never before was Varosha-new Famagusta-been so gay and so prettily decorated. Never before have the inhabitants looked so proud as one saw them on that Sunday morning of the 19th day of January, 1936. It was, doubtless, the greatest day of the year, when men, women and children all joined in to celebrate the Second Annual Orange Day.

The above slogan is displayed on the balcony of the District Commissioner's Office building. The late Mr. Anthemos Panaretos, District Agricultural Officer, is seen addressing the crowd. He was the inspiration of the celebrated annual Orange Festival in Famagusta.

It was a beautiful sunny morning. Nature, therefore, had also decided to take part in the general festivities of the people by displaying her wondrous charms. The people went out into the streets in the early hours of the day. Many of them decorated their houses and shops with orange branches and hung out bunches of oranges. The students' corps in their school uniforms, and the huge crowd, followed the band to the Konak Square with music and songs. Beautiful girls, dressed in orange colour, and wearing garlands of orange leaves on their heads, were a feature of the procession. As their carriages slowly moved on among the cheering crowds, they handed oranges to the people.

The whole population, together with hundreds of visitors, gathered in front of the Commissioner's Office balcony to hear of the value of orange eating. The speakers revealed new thoughts. The orange, they said, besides the vitamin it contained, had such curative power as to heal 19 different ailments! Everybody stood there and heard the speakers as their forefathers used to hear visiting philosophers in the market places.

The newspaper boys had additional work that morning. They distributed lots of printed matter, the contents of which were about the bewildering benefits of the orange. One leaflet spoke of the story of Hercules and the Hesperides Sisters. According to Greek mythology, the gods loved the red apples. That was why the Hesperides Sisters and the dragon guarded the apple tree. Hercules, being the superman, killed the dragon and ate the red apples. No wonder he risked his life to taste the fruit of such a valuable tree. In the light of modern explanation the red apples of the past are nothing else than the ordinary oranges of our day.

The Orange Merchants' Committee distributed, gratis, oranges to all the public restaurants so that the visitors to the festivities might eat as many oranges as they wished. None had to run the same risk as Hercules. The band played several times, and the students sang songs about the orange. The whole ceremony was most impressive

The last annual Famagusta Orange Festival took place 14-17 March 1974