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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

Hostel in Thessaloniki, Greece Arabas Studios
Arabas Studios
28, Sahtouri Str., 54632 Thessaloniki, Greece

Being located in the historic part of Thessaloniki, so called Old or Upper Town (Ano Poli), Arabas hostel is an ideal place for backpackers, groups or individual travelers looking for budget and quality accommodation in a great location. The center of the bustling city of Thessaloniki can be reached within 15 minutes on foot. The train station is at 1.5 km, while the Thessaloniki Airport Makedonia is at 20 km. Many shops, traditional taverns, bars and the historic monuments located in the center of the town can be reached within short walking distance.

Hotel in Athens, Greece Phidias Hotel
8.9 10
Phidias Hotel
39, Apostolou Pavlou Str., 11851 Athens, Greece

Built in the historical centre of Athens, Hotel Phidias is just a 10-minute walk from Acropolis. Thission Metro station, which connects you directly to Piraeus Port, is only 150m away.

Appartment in Naxos, Greece Depis Suites & Apartments
Depis Suites & Apartments
Kinidarou Str., 84300 Naxos, Greece

Depis Suites & Apartments is situated in Naxos Chora, just 100 m from the popular beach of Saint George and 300 m from the town center. The main port of Naxos is 1 km away and the Naxos Airport is at 2 km.


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