In this post I am going off topic to tell you a little about all the Festivals and Celebrations going on here in Greece at the moment. Working from home gives me this chance to take a little time off to join in with all the celebrations.
The three week period prior to the Greek Orthodox 40 day Lent is a time of celebration and is known as Apokries or Carnival.
During Lent it is a time of fasting and abstinence leading up to Easter. For the whole of Lent and throughout Holy Week, there are no weddings, parties or celebrations. Also fasting and abstinence from meat, drinking wine and restrictions on other foods makes for a sombre and sober time. So before this period of deprival there are three weeks of fun, food and festivities. The three week period is named Apokria meaning “abstention from meat”.
During Apokries, more commonly known as Carnival, there are many celebrations and festivities.
The Apokries period in early spring has its roots in Ancient Greece when the Greek god of wine, fertility and ecstasy, Dionysus was worshipped and revered with much drinking of wine and merriment.
The period of Apokria consists of three feasts.
The second feast of Apokries is named Kreatini and is known as ‘Meat Week’. This is traditionally the last opportunity to eat meat before Lent. The Thursday of this week is named Tsikno Pempti or Burnt Thursday where feasting on grilled meats are the order of the day. Many parties, including fancy dress parties or the wearing of masks are held in bars or clubs commence during this week.
The third feast of Apokries is called Tirini and is known as ‘Cheese Week’. Cheese, eggs and dairy products are enjoyed heartedly during this week as meat is not allowed.
Balloon sellers mingle with spectators while music is played loudly and adds to the carnival atmosphere. Later there are parties with much eating and drinking continue throughout the evening.
The day after the big parade of the Carnival is called “Clean Monday” on this day the Greek families go to the beach and fly kites, have a BBQ with seafood as they are not allowed meat until Easter.
Greek Independance Day
Today is Greek Independance day so all the public buildings are closed today and there will be a parade in town later this afternoon.
March 25 is both a national (revolution against the Turks) and religious holiday (Annunciation). March 25 is the nameday for Vangelis or Evangelos and Vangelio or Evangelia or Eva.
There is a school flag parade in every town and village and a big armed forces parade in Athens , the capital of Greece .
The Byzantine Empire fell to the Turks in 1453 and the Greeks remained under the Ottoman rule for nearly 400 years. During this time their language, their religion and their sense of identity remained strong.
On March 25, 1821 the bishop Germanos of Patras raised the Greek flag at the Monastery of Agia Lavra in Peloponnese and one more revolution started against the Turks. The people of Greece shouted “Freedom or Death” and they fought the War of Independence for 9 years (1821-1829) until a small part of modern Greece was finally liberated and it was declared an independent nation.
The struggle for the liberation of all the lands inhabited by Greeks continued. In 1864, the Ionian islands were added to Greece; in 1881 parts of Epirus and Thessaly. Crete, the islands of the Eastern Aegean and Macedonia were added in 1913 and Western Thrace in 1919. After World War II the Dodecanese islands were also returned to Greece.
We were going to go to watch the parade this afternoon but we have been invited out for lunch for a friends Birthday so we will miss it this year.
Hope you enjoyed this post about my adopted country, I will be back on topic in my next post. I would love to hear from you so if you would like to share your thoughts then please leave a comment below.
Thanks for reading