Did you know that Carnival is one of the biggest dates on the Greek calendar? This year the carnival or Apokries as it’s known takes place from 24th February to 17th March and the festivities make it a great holiday away with a difference.
Apokries for the Greek Orthodox Church is the three week period before Ash Monday when the 40-day long Lenten Fast begins. During this time children, as well as grown-ups dress up in crazy costumes and take to the streets to parade and celebrate. Most of the celebrations and activities have their origins in Ancient Greece and they honour Dionysis (Bachus) the god of wine and joy, which used to take place at the end of Winter.
The celebrations vary among locations throughout the country and depending on the particular local traditions, nevertheless with emphasis mainly on satire. Patras in the Peloponese, claims to be the carnival capital. A huge parade of dancing people and kitsch carnival floats ends up with the burning up of the King of the Carnival.
However, for those of you still in Athens during the Carnival, Plaka is the epicentre of action during the last weekend with thousands of people gathering there and following a self styled parade of the costumed masses.
Following the Carnival’s peak, Ash Monday (March 18) is a national holiday too and traditionally it is a day when people head outdoors to fly kites and enjoy picnics or family meals featuring fast foods such as octopus, shellfish and taramosalata.
So, if it happens to visit Greece during this fun-filled period take advantage of everything going on for a memorable experience.
For more on Carnival check out our 6 must-see festivals in the Caribbean.