Greek Carnival Celebrations Across GreeceThe Triodion is open… as they say in Greece, and along with it comes joy, fun and lots of kefi in each town of Greece. The Carnival is considered to be a hyper national celebration, since it has become an attraction for more and more people despite their financial status or age over the years.
The celebrations of music, masquerade, dance and colors mark a unique three-week-long period in Greece that dates back to antiquity and the worship of the god Bacchus, or Dionysus, god of wine and celebration in the Eleusinian Mysteries.
Today, there are many different carnival parades going on all over Greece. Hundreds of groups take part in those parades, and anyone who wishes to participate can just join a group.
The biggest festival has taken place in the city of Patras for the past 180 years, and the regular attendance of young people in the great parade is approximately 40,000. That’s why this festival is considered to be one of the greatest in Europe and is a meeting point for all carnival enthusiasts around Greece.
Just like in Rio de Janeiro, people in Patras spend the whole year preparing for the coming Carnival celebrations.
Bearing the strong influences of the Italian traditions, the carnival of Patras has already begun. With the “Treasure Hunt”, the restless dancing, the music bands strolling the city, the famous chocolate war in the city centre and the night parades, the Carnival will reach its peak on February 26 at 3pm, with the biggest chariots parade and the burning of King Carnival at night.
Xanthi’s Carnival is the biggest festival of Northern Greece, and has been taking place yearly since 1926. Approximately 20,000 visitors go there every year to get a taste of fun, imagination, creativity and music.
Among other common Carnival celebrations and games, Xanthi’s carnival participants burn the King of the Carnival on the Kosinthos river waters, while children have to grab a piece of the kris pudding pie with their mouths (their hands are tied behind their backs) before joining the celebrations.
Moreover, there is the famous Baldafun, which is actually a disco club just for kids, who eagerly wait for it all year.
In Naousa, Northern Greece, Apokries are a time of enthusiasm, spontaneity and warm welcomes to all visitors with unorganized satiric carnival celebrations.
The custom of Giannitsaros and Boula is the most renowned happening in Naousa, which is only performed by young men. One of them plays the part of Giannitsaros and another man the female part of Boula, while the parade is accompanied by the music of traditional instruments.
During the custom a lot of famous Naousa wine flows in the cups of the participants and on the last Sunday a big feast is held at the Alonia Square.
The famous Carnival of Corfu is 450 years old and has its roots in the Middle Ages, when the Venetian conquerors of the island brought this custom back from their homeland. Today, the Carnival of Corfu closely resembles the Carnival of Venice and includes many fun happenings.
The most famous happening of the Carnival is the Great Parade that takes place in Liston and Spianada square. People dressed in strange customs join groups and spread to the entire island a spirit of festivity. The parade is accompanied by local music and dancing.
At the end of the parade, there follows the burning of King Carnival, which is said to carry the sins of the locals. The King Carnival is burnt in a bonfire among great partying and dancing. An interesting custom associated with the Carnival is the enactment of the Corfu Petegoletsia, which means “the Gossip”. This is a form of a street theater, where actors sit in windows overlooking the alley of the Old Town and exchange gossip, in local dialect. This gossip might refer to political authorities or local scandals.
During the Carnival of Rethymno, Crete, the city gets in a festive mood with its young people dancing in the streets from dusk to dawn. The Carnival dates back to 1914 and reminds the residents of a former era, when the island used to welcome “the King”.
The King Carnival, however, is also surrendered to the flames on the last Sunday of the Apokries.
The Carnival of Rethymno includes the Treasure Hunt, night parades, chariots and dance groups joining the big parade on February 26.
On the following morning of Kathara Deftera, Greeks tend to go fly their kites in hills and beaches across Greece, while they enjoy the delicacies of taramas, lagana and beans.