Tsiknopempti-Carnival-Clean Monday

Would you like to read about some Greek traditions?

Tsiknopempti is the “Grilling day” or “Meat day”, which happens prior to long Easter fast. It is part of the traditional celebrations of the carnival in Greece.

What does it mean?

“Tsikna” is the smell of charred meat and the word “Pempti” means Thursday, so the whole word “Tsiknopempti” is loosely translated to “Barbecue Thursday” and is similar to Fat Thursday in other countries. On this day, city and town governments set up grills in central squares, musicians stroll around playing traditional instruments and great quantities of roasted meat are consumed in the midst of the Carnival atmosphere.

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The Carnival (Apokries) lasts three weeks. The Patras Carnival is the largest event of its kind in Greece and one of the biggest in Europe. It is not a single event but a variety of events that include balls, parades, hunting of hidden treasure, kid’s carnival etc. But don’t worry! If you stay in Athens for sure you will not get bored! Expect plenty of festivities, especially in the neighborhoods of Plaka  (AthenStyle’s hood!) and Moschato, many parties and fancy dress shows all over the streets, in the bars, clubs, tavernas…

However, the carnival, as most carnival events in the Mediterranean and the Balkans, is connected with ancient pagan rituals, such as those to honour Dionysus (Greek god of wine). In Ancient Greece they used to do processions they were singing songs about phallus in order to honour Dionysus.

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Clean Monday, also known as Pure Monday, Ash Monday, Monday of Lent or Green Monday, is the first day of the Eastern Orthodox Christian and Eastern Catholic Great Lent. It is a movable feast that occurs at the beginning of the 7th week before Orthodox Easter Sunday. The common term for this day, “Clean Monday”, refers to the leaving behind of sinful attitudes and non-fasting foods.

Clean Monday is a public holiday in Greece and Cyprus, where it is celebrated with outdoor excursions, the consumption of shellfish and other fasting food, a special kind of  azyme bread, baked only on that day named “lagana” and the widespread custom of flying kites. Sometimes we create our own kites and the sky is full of them that day! Eating meat, eggs and dairy products is traditionally forbidden to Orthodox Christians throughout Lent, with fish being eaten only on major feast days, but shellfish is permitted in European denominations. The Great Lent (Sarakosti) starts after Clean Monday.

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