Carnival Time in Greece
areas of Greece hold parades that are lavish extravaganzas.
Perhaps the most famous is the Carnival of Patras considered as
the third largest Carnival celebration in the world. The city has
a well-established carnival scene, ideal for tourists and locals
alike, but it's not the only celebration in Greece. Some people
say that the rituals of Apokries or Carnival have Pagan roots. I
will say that Apokries in Greece are a wonderful, magical time
for the young and old.
So, if you have never considered Carnival in Greece, this is a great year to do so. The Carnival, usually in February is a great time to visit Greece. Flights are cheap and hotel prices are low.
Why are the Carnival dates different every year? In Greece, Carnival dates are tied to Greek Orthodox Easter, which is usually different from Western Easter. Every four years, both calendars will coincide, so do check if you want to attend both. Only the Greek Orthodox carnival dates are widely celebrated in Greece.
When Should I go? For the traveler to Greece, the most vigorous party is on the weekend prior to the end of the Carnival season. This is followed by "Clean Monday" (Ash Monday), a generally family-oriented day where, picnics and kite-flying prevail. This day is the last day of Carnival for the Greeks.
Why are the Greeks so good at putting on Carnival? Simply because they invented it. Most carnival-related events are connected with the ancient worship of the Greek god of wine and divine intoxication, Dionysus. The processions, costuming, and feasting, all derive from ancient ceremonies honouring him and other Greek gods and goddesses, though some claim parts of it, including the carrying of models of ships in processions, date back to similar rites in Ancient Egypt.
Important Dates in the Carnival Season: 40 days before the beginning of Lent, Carnival begins on a Saturday evening with the opening of the Triodion, a book containing three sacred odes. This is a religious moment not generally observed outside of the church itself. The Friday, Saturday, and Sunday preceding "Clean Monday" usually offer vigorous parties, parades, and traditional events wherever Carnival is celebrated. In larger towns or cities "known" for Carnival, such as Rethimno or Patras, the previous weekend will also be filled with activities.
"Clean Monday" or "Kathari Deftera", is the actually the first day of Lent. While a holiday atmosphere still prevails, the foods consumed are all "pure", without the shedding of blood. But this allows cuttlefish and squid, fish roe, and other items. "Lagana" is a flat bread traditionally served on this day.
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