It is carnival time in Greece! Unfortunately, this year again without parades and larger events. The joy is especially great for the little ones. In their cute costumes, they can finally celebrate with their friends in kindergartens and schools again.
Today, Thursday, 24th February, the Greeks celebrate Tsiknopempti – the day they eat large amounts of grilled meat.
Tsiknopempti is a vital part of Greece’s Carnival season. Unfortunately the stormy and wet weather today prevents people from lighting BBQs outside.
Apokries (Carnival). in Greece is the carnival season that begins around ten weeks prior to Greek Orthodox Easter and finishes on Clean Monday. ‘Apokries’ means ‘no more meat’ or ‘away from meat’.
In Greece, carnival is tied to the Greek Orthodox Easter which is different from the Catholic Church.
In non-Corona times it is a celebration filled with colour, music, dance, feasting, partying and merrymaking. And it is full of events and activities for the whole family.
In 2022 Carnival is from Sunday, 13th February to Sunday, 6th March.
Tsiknopempti (Burnt or Smoky Thursday) is on 24th February and
Clean Monday (‘Kathara Deftera’) is on Monday, 7th March .
Tskinopempti, the “Barbeque” Thursday is known as the meat eater’s favorite holiday. It is a special day, where a large amount of meat is traditionally grilled and consumed, just before the arrival of Great Lent, marking the lead up to Pascha (Easter – Πάσχα) and also the official start of Apokries (Carnival).
People who fast for 40 days during Easter lent without eating meat use Tsiknopemtpi (Τσικνοπέμπτη) as a day to eat as much meat as they want, right before fasting begins.
It is all about cuts of pork, lamb, beef, goat or any other meat of your choice and with a huge emphasis on grilling and charcoal and the most common item will be some variation of souvlaki – meat on a stick. These are available almost everywhere – in town walk carefully to avoid banging into an unexpected grill mostly obscured by smoke!
It is a day of feast but also a social event as improvised grills are set to public spaces and people are invited for a kerasma (treat).You want to learn more about Carnival traditions? Then click here.
Photo credit: ethnos.gr