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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 Delphi, Greece Hotel Orfeas
Hotel Orfeas
Ifigenias & Syggrou Str. 35, 33054 Delphi, Greece

Hotel Orfeas is set in a central location in the village of Delphi, close to the archaeological site. Arachova is a 15-minute drive away.

Hotel in Nafplio, Greece Apollon Hotel
Apollon Hotel
46, Bouboulinas Str., Tolo, 21056 Nafplio, Greece

Centrally located in the popular seaside resort, Apollon Hotel is situated just 50 m from the sandy beach of Tolo and a short walk from the lively center. Picturesque Nafplio town is at 10 km.

Hotel in Pelion, Greece Petradi Hotel
Petradi Hotel
Kalamaki, 37012 Pelion, Greece

Petradi Hotel is hosted in a charming, stone-built mansion in Kalamaki village in beautiful Pelion region. Kalamaki Beach can be reached within an 8-minute drive. Traditional villages of Portaria and Makrinitsa are at 46 km. Volos town and the port are 35 km away.


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