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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Your Big Fat Greek Carnival

You can see a priest going out with a shemale prostitute, famous politician hanging out with an oversized bear or maybe a fairy girl partying with a clown. Ready or not, the Carnival (Apokries) time has arrived!

Be prepared to see an everyday life transformed to a fantasy of masqueraders and parties for three weeks. Weekends are the most popular periods for dressing-up and having fun. Streamers, confetti, tins of foam, whistles and clackers are must to have in order to take a part of the party atmosphere. 

Copyright 2011 Jan
Here is a little survival info kit for the Carnival first timers:

First week of the Carnival starts with the opening of the book of the Triodion, the three holy sacraments. Second week is a meat week preceding Lent (Sarakosti). Third week is a cheese week when people are supposed to eat mostly dairy products and eggs but not meat. The wildest parties must be on the weekend prior to the end of the Carnival season. In Athens the place to be is the part of the city called Moschato because it holds Athens´s biggest parade!

The last Thursday before Lent starts, is called Sizzling Thursday (Tsikno Pempti), referring to the sound made by the grilling of the meat traditionally eaten on this day. The weekend following "Burnt Thursday" is important because Meat-eating Sunday is the last allowable day for eating, well, meat. Tables at meat taverns will be hard to find without reservations.

Copyright 2011 Jan
The final day of the Carnival is called Tyrofagou Sunday. It is a good day for big carnival parade and having an unhappy marriage (according to old traditions). The day after is Clean Monday (Kathara Deftera). It marks the end of the Carnival and beginning of 40 days long Lent. It is a Bank Holiday in Greece and seen as the start of springtime. It is usually family-oriented day where picnics and kite-flying prevail. 

Copyright 2011 Jan
In Greece the Carnival started in Ancient times, believed to be as a worship to Dionysos, the God of Wine and Feast. In the Orthodox tradition Apokries is the preparation period before Lent. Nowadays it is a harmonious blend of traditions and contemporary ideas and events to all citizens and city visitors. 

In 2011 Carnival runs from Saturday 12th February to Sunday 6th March. The Carnival dates: Triodion is on Feb 12th, "Burnt Thursday" is on February 24th, main Carnival weekend is from March 4th to 6th and Clean Monday on March 7th.

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