The kapnistiri is used in many Cypriot traditional ceremonies.
Made of silver, it has two round containers shaped like apples with the top half hinged to open up, one for charcoal and one for olive leaves. With it is the merecha, a container in the shape of a pear for rosewater or bitter orange water. Traditionally the guests were welcomed in a Cypriot house by burning the olive leaves in the container and passing them over the guest’s head three times and the water is sprinkled on the palms. The olive leaves have been taken to the church on Palm Sunday, blessed by the priest and collected again on Ascension day.
In a wedding ceremony the kapnistiri is used in the ceremony of dressing the bride and groom before the wedding this is a ritual that takes place in their separate houses. Again the olive leaves are burnt and passed over the head three times. The three represents the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
Often the kapnistiri is bought for the wedding and kept on display in the couple’s home together with the stefana used in the wedding ceremony in the church. The stefana are silver garlands fashioned to represent olive leaves, which are attached by a ribbon and passed above the heads of the bride and groom by the priest to signify union.