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Greek Carnival traditions

Corfu ● Galaxidi ● Ioannina ● Karpathos ● Kozani ● Methoni Messinia ● Naousa ● Skyros ● Thessaloniki ● Xanthi ● Zakynthos ● 16 March 2017
 

A traditional offshoot of the ancient Dionysian festivals, Carnival in Greece has customs, whose roots go back in the antiquity.


Carnival is not only a festival before Easter, but it also marks the coming of spring and the blossoming of new life. Many places in Greece have their own ways to celebrate the Carnival. In Xanthi Thrace, on the last Sunday of the Carnival, before Clean Monday, the locals gather to watch the burning of an effigy, and it is believed that thus, they banish the evil spirits.


On the island of Corfu, on the same day, after a parade, which reminds of the Venetian Carnival, another effigy, the King of the Carnival is burnt, while in Zakynthos, an Ionian island which is also influenced by the Venetian Carnival, the locals re-enact customs of the 16th century, such as a traditional Venetian wedding with impressive costumes.


In Thessaloniki, men are decked out in black and red costumes with colourful headgear and heavy bells, and they spill out noisily in the streets, while in Skyros, in the island complex of Sporades, the islanders are dressed up as old men with black capes, masks, shepherd's sandals and goat bells, just like the troupe of God Dionysus in ancient Greece.


In Kozani and Ioannina, the neighbourhoods are illuminated by large flames, in a custom that has to do with the ancient belief of the purifying power of fire. In Methoni Messinia, in southern Peloponnese, on Clean Monday, takes place a satirical marriage between two men in costumes, known as Koutroulis' Wedding, which is followed by dancing until the dawn.

In Karpathos, in the south-eastern Aegean, also on Clean Monday, the locals stage the Peoples' Court of Immoral Acts, as a way to clean and prepare the state for Lent. In Galaxidi, near Delphi, at the start of Lent, there is a battle with flour, a custom that has its roots in Byzantine Times.


In Naousa Imathias, in Central Macedonia (Greece), Carnival is known as Boules, after the word bouloukia (=bunches), which is used to describe the group of people dancing around the streets of the city.


Where to Stay

Hotel in Athens, Greece Argo Hotel
Argo Hotel
25, Victor Hugo Str., 10437 Athens, Greece

Argo Hotel is located in the centre of Athens, just a 3- minute walk from Metaxourgeio Metro Station and an 8- minute walk from Omonoia Square. Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos" is a 35- minute drive.

Hotel in Piraeus, Greece Hotel Faros I
Hotel Faros I
140, Notara Str., 18536 Piraeus, Greece

Centrally located in Piraeus, Hotel Faros I offers accommodation just 10 minutes walk from the port and from a metro station. The center of Athens can be reached within 15 minutes from the nearest railway/metro station (Piraeus). Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos" is at 40 km and a bus stop for the X96 bus connecting Piraeus and the airport is a 3-minute walk away.

Hotel in Athens, Greece Athens Cypria Hotel
8.8 10
Athens Cypria Hotel
5, Diomeias Str., 10563 Athens, Greece

Athens Cypria Hotel is situated just 300 m from Syntagma Metro Station.The hotel is adjacent to Ermou Street, the most commercial street in Athens. #The New Acropolis Museum is a 10-minute walk. Athens International Airport is at a distance of 38 km away.


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