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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.

Greek carnival

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 Piraeus, Greece Hotel Delfini
Hotel Delfini
7, Leocharous str., 18531 Piraeus, Greece

Hotel Delfini is located near the port of Piraeus just 3 minutes walk from the old electric railway station (Metro Line 1) and 5 minutes walk from the port, which has direct accessibility to all Aegean islands. The center of Athens can be reached within 15 minutes from the nearest railway/metro station (Piraeus). The Athens International Airport can be reached in 1 hour and 50 minutes with the bus X95 or in 1 hour and 30 minutes with the electric train and metro.

Hotel in Tripoli, Greece Arcadia Hotel
Arcadia Hotel
Kolokotroni Sq., 22100 Tripoli, Greece

Arcadia Hotel is located in a very central location in Tripolis. Its location is an excellent starting point for guests who wish to explore Peloponesse. Kalamata International Airport is 76 km away.

Hotel in Zakynthos, Greece Clear Horizon
8.6 10
Clear Horizon
Amoudi, 29090 Zakynthos, Greece

Clear Horizon is located in the small, quiet village of Amoudi, just a minute's walk from the sandy beach. Zakynthos town and port is 16 km away. Zakynthos International Airport is 17.8 km away.


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