Nikos Deja Vu - The 2012 Carnival in Greece
Celebration ... a chance to escape everyday monotony and enter into a world of party, fantasy, jinks and 'kefi' (high spirits) ... a feast of dance, wine and meat before the sacrifices and fasting of Lent.
The Tradition of Apokries / Karnavali (Apokries may also be spelt Apokreas, Apokrias): 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. Apokries means literally saying goodbye to meat - Apoxh apo kreas - apo-kreas. In Latin the roots of the word Carnival has the same meaning - 'carne' is meat and 'vale' goodbye.
Apokries runs for three weeks immediately preceding Lent. In 2012 Apokries runs from Sunday 5 February to Sunday 26 February, while Clean Monday ('Kathara Deftera' or 'Kathari Deftera') falls on Monday 27 February 2012. First Week of Apokries - from Sunday 5 February 2012. Apokries starts with the opening of the book of the Triodion, the 3 holy sacraments.
Second Week- Meat week - Officially the last week of eating meat until after Lent. Tsiknopempti - Thursday of meat week. Tsikna is the smell of burning meat. It was the custom on Tsikonpempti for everyone (including the poor) to charcoal grill meat and to melt fat over it so the smell of 'burning' meat permeated whole villages. It is still the tradition to eat meat on Tsiknopempti, although nowadays it is usual to go to a taverna for the meat feast. You'll find that tavernas everywhere are packed and many have live music too. Another glendi!
Third Week - Cheese Week. This week was also called 'White Week' as people ate mostly dairy products and eggs. Meat was forbidden from Monday of cheese week until after Lent.
Many people still adhere to this. Women never washed their hair during this week as it was said it would turn white if they did.
Tyrofagis Sunday - 26 February 2012: The majority of Carnival Parades are held on this day, the last day of Apokries. The final day of Apokries, and it's also the last day until after Easter that church weddings are allowed to take place. The Orthodox Church still follows the tradition that no weddings or celebrations can take place during the 50 days of Lent. The old tradition says don't get married on this day; if you do it will be an unhappy marriage! Carnival parades are held on this, the last day of Apokrias.
Clean Monday - 27 February 2012 The day after Tyrofagis Sunday is 'Kathara Deftera' , also called 'Kathari Deftera', or Clean Monday, which falls on 27 February 2012.
Clean Monday marks the end of Apokries and is the first day of Lent (Sarakosti). Fasting starts today and traditionally no meat, fish, eggs, dairy products or oil are allowed to be eaten for the 49 days leading up to Easter. Clean Monday is a Bank Holiday in Greece and also seen as the start of springtime; it is celebrated by an excursion to the mountains or the beach to enjoy a Lenten picnic or taverna meal, and fly a kite!
Masqueraders (Pronounced 'mask - e - ra - des' in Greek): During the three weeks of Apokries children, teenagers and adults alike dress up in (often outrageous!) disguises and masks and visit the houses of friends and neighbours who try to guess the identities of the masqueraders. The town and village cafés, tavernas and bars are also visited by masqueraders, usually armed with cans of foam, streamers and confetti. Weekends, and the final carnival weekend in particular, are the most popular periods for dressing-up and many masked balls, dances and children's parties are held at various venues throughout the three week carnival period. Apokries culminates with the Grand Carnival Parades, a number of which are held throughout Crete and Greece, usually on the last Apokries weekend - Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th February in 2012.
Carnival Parades: Carnival Parades are held all over Crete and Greece, with the majority taking place on the last Sunday of Apokries.In Crete many towns and villages hold carnivals; the largest of which takes place in Rethymnon on Sunday 26th February at 2pm. Other Crete carnivals are normally held in: Heraklion, Souda, Paleochora, Kalyves, Kastelli. Groups of friends get together to form teams, deciding on a theme for their floats and costumes. These can take months to make and are generally used only once, with originals produced each year. Prizes are sometimes awarded for the best floats and costumes and there can be great ( friendly!) rivalry between teams. The largest and most famous Greek carnival of all is held in the town of Patras in the Peleponnese on the Greek mainland.
Nikos Deja Vu