Did you ever experience Carnival and Tsiknopempti in Greece? Usually the month of February, is the carnival month! Also in Greece, the carnival season lasts for 3 weeks during which period Greeks really enjoy themselves, organize many parties and eat a lot of meat!

On the Thursday of the second week of Carnival, Greeks celebrate the so called “Tsiknopempti”. On this particular Thursday everyone grills and eats meat. The smell of grilled meat, which fills every neighborhood, is called “tsikna”! Most Greeks gather with friends at home or go to restaurants, in order to “tsiknisoun”! This means, they will “eat meat, smell the “tsikna”, drink and dance”!

The custom goes back through centuries. It is believed to have its roots in the Dionysian festivals of the ancient times, when the fans of Dionysus (god of wine and fertility) celebrated in his honor. Those who participated in these celebrations disguised themselves, drank wine and sang satiric songs.

On Tsiknopempti, you can also see many masquerades!  During the three other weekends of carnival there are more masquerades, as well as parades, organized by municipalities all over Greece, on public squares or in schools. The last Sunday of carnival the biggest Greek parade takes place in the city of Patras. The “ Patrino karnavali” is the largest event of its kind in Greece and one of the biggest in Europe.  You might not believe it, but it is amazing and very impressive indeed!

Each region in Greece has its own customs for Carnaval and Tsiknopempti. Click here to see a small example of Carnival in northern Greece with the typical music of the region.

If you are in Athens, we recommend to go for a walk in Plaka, where you can experience the Greek carnival. In the small side streets of Plaka you might see a big carnival party, as celebrated in older times. Various musical bands will play traditional Greek songs, and later in the evening there might be Latin rhythms as well!

If you love Carnival, but Brazil is too far for you, make sure to book your flight to Greece and a hotel in Patras!

To read the text in Greek and listen to the audio text, see below.

Useful vocabulary

Καλές Απόκριες! (kales apokries!) = enjoy the carnival!
Καλή Τσικνοπέμπτη! (kali tsiknopempti) = Have a nice Tsiknopempti!
Τσίκνα (tsikna) = smell of grilled meat
Τσικνίζω (tsiknizo) = to celebrate the Tsiknopempti
Ο μασκαράς (o mascaras) = the masquerade
Μασκαρεύομαι (maskarevomai) = to dress up for carnival
Τι θα ντυθείς τις Απόκριες; (tit ha ntutheis tis apokries?) = how will you dress up for carnival?