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Carnival is a time when Greek of all ages dress up in costumes and go to various events. Over this weekend the entire country participated in the celebrations as different municipalities showcased their traditions.
The Tradition of Carnival
The days of carnival are a time where people have a good time. The word “carnival” comes from the Greek word “apokries” and the celebrations take place over a period of time which begins around 10 weeks before the Greek Orthodox Easter and lasts up to what the Greeks call “Clean Monday” — known in many parts of the world as “Ash Monday,” or the first day of Lent.
This year was like many before as events were organized by the municipalities of Piraeus and Athens and thousands of Greeks hit the street in costume participating in parades and gathering in town squares for games and food.
Carnival in Patras
The municipality that is best known for its celebrations is the port city of Patras, which has the oldest and one of the biggest carnival celebrations in the country. Started in 1870, the events include everything from galas and parades to children’s events such as treasure hunts and a children’s carnival.
Other traditional events for carnival took place in Xanthi, Rethymno, Kastoria, Tyrnavos and Volos — to name a few. Let’s take a closer look at some of their local traditions!
Carnival in Tyrnavos
The celebration in Tyrnavos are ones to take note of and if you are ever in central Greece during the carnival season, this is definitely one event you should not miss. The events for carnival take place in quaint little towns and villages and it is always a wild party!
Carnival in Xanthi
Also Xanthi’s carnival is set up by over 40 different cultural associations who take part in the celebrations with their own unique stalls lining the streets. You can sample local wines and try the traditional food of the region. In Xanthi they celebrate with the local custom of “To kápsimo tou Tzárou” (the burning of Tzaros), as well as a float parade and costumes.
Carnival in Rethymno
Another unique carnival experience awaits you in Rethymno, where almost and entire month-long venue of events take place every year. The parade invites locals with passing tourists as they all get together to celebrate in a music-filled party with a strong Venetian influence; as evident from the costumes and floats.
One thing is for sure, no matter where you went this weekend in Greece, you were sure to run into some sort of carnival celebration!