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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

Pansion in Arachova, Greece Arahova Pansion
Arahova Pansion
Agiou Georgiou, 32004 Arachova, Greece

Arahova Pansion is located in the village of Arachova. It is 7 km away from Parnassus.

Hotel in Mani, Greece Kleopatra Traditional Hotel Apartments
8.8 10
Kleopatra Traditional Hotel Apartments
Stoupa, 24024 Mani, Greece

Kleopatra Traditional Hotel Apartments is located in the seaside village of Stoupa, in Mani region in beautiful Peloponnese, just at the foot of Mount Taygetos. The hotel lies within a 5-minute walk from the beach and the center of the village with many cafes, shops, traditional taverns and supermarkets. The city of Kalamata is 40 km away.

Hotel in Epidavros, Greece Actor Hotel
Actor Hotel
7, Agiou Georgiou str., Ligourio, 21052 Epidavros, Greece

Actor Hotel is located in the village of Ligourio, 3.5 km from the Ancient Theater of Epidavros. The famous archaeological site of Mycenae is 38 km away. The nearest beach can be reached within a 20-minute drive. The historic and picturesque Nafplio town is at 25 km.


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