Carnival customs in Greece
The beginning of springtime brings along some of the most popular occasions that Greek and visitors of Greece alike usually enjoy experiencing. As the weather slowly gets more and more pleasant, any celebration will give you the perfect excuse to spend the days in the open, with pleasant company, and, being in Greece, with excellent food too.
Fancy one of the most crowded celebrations you have ever seen, with colors, music, and pure joy… that’s what Carnival is all about in Greece. It’s a festive moment when everyone takes a break from their daily routine, wear their best costume and dance in the streets!
The season of Carnival is known as Apokries among the locals, a word that literally means “no more meat” and it is a term associated with the Orthodox tradition that comprises a three-week period of preparation before the forty days of lent before Easter. But this celebration has even deeper roots in the Greek past. Even during ancient times there were festivities in this time of the year which were related to the end of the winter times and the arrival of the season. Generally these celebrations involved the worship of Dionysus, the God of Wine and Celebrations, among other things.
While in Greece, the Carnival celebrations taking place in Patra, Napflio and Xanthi are among the best known in the country, receiving visitors from all over Europe each year. On the island of Crete, the Carnival of Rethymno is a one of a kind experience that has been attracting visitors for many years, since 1914! In the capital city of Heraklio, Kastrino Carnavali event will take place on March 3rd.
For an occasion to celebrate with family and friends, maybe in a more intimate atmosphere, Clean Monday, or Kathará Deftera is the perfect day of the year. People usually choose to celebrate with picnics in the fields, and families with kids play with the traditional kites, known as chartaetoi, which they may fly in the open. Afternoon skies all around Greece are really colourful and playful during this Monday.
Food could not be missing during Clean Monday, and certain seafood, such as shellfish, oysters, tarama, and octopus are the dishes of choice. People also enjoy eating halva, snails, olives, and a special kind of bread known as lagana, a very subtle and delicate speciality, extremely fragrant and delicious when it just came out of a wooden oven.
Sarakosti is the name given to the 40 lenten days that follow Clean Monday until the celebration of Easter. Also called The Great Lent, this period ends on Holy Saturday, after midnight.
During these forty days, devote Orthodox Christians fast from certain foods, such as meat, poultry and dairy products, as well as fish and seafood with a backbone. These dietary restrictions have the purpose to cleanse the body and the spirit but also prepare for the acceptance of the resurrection of Christ.
Our 626 All Day Lounge and City Garden is getting ready to invite its guests to experience a special Sarakostiana menu which will include the most traditional products of the period.
Come to Crete!
The period going from the end of winter to the beginning of spring and all the way into summer is like an in crescendo of festivities and celebrations that locals love to enjoy together in family reunions. Sitting at a Cretan table during these times does not mean at all that delicacies will be any less delicious.
A good table is a typical trait of the island that does not even vanish during Lent. Families should take advantage of these springtime occasions, not only to enjoy the warmer weather and open-air activities but also to be able to experience some of the most beloved traditions of the country. A stay in the heart of Crete will certainly enhance this experience. Choosing Heraklion and the landmark Lato Boutique Hotel, will make it unforgettable.