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Apokries: Carnival Season in Full Swing in Greece

Apokries Greek carnival
Thousands participated in the Patras Children Carnival last weekend. Credit: AMNA

Carnival celebrations in Greece, or “Apokries,” started at the weekend and will culminate next weekend.

Young and old carnival-goers flooded the streets all over the country after a long period during which the coronavirus pandemic limited events.

The western city of Patras, boasts one of the biggest and best carnival celebrations in all of Europe. It is a celebration filled with colour, music, dance, feasting, partying, drinking and merrymaking. Patras Carnival is not just one event but is full of events and activities for the whole family.

There are parades, masquerade balls, street parties, a hidden treasure hunt, theatre and music performances and even a children’s carnival.

Apokries carnival Greece
The city of Patras boasts one of the biggest and best carnival celebrations. Credit: AMNA

The Patras Children’s Carnival took place this weekend, a week prior to the Grand Parade. It featured over 12,000 kids who paraded through the streets of Patras with their mums and dads, dressed in bright costumes. The carnival groups are made up of different kindergartens, dance schools, nurseries, etc.

The Patras Children’s Carnival also featured giant colorful floats. The themes were based on famous fairy tales or Disney movies.

Apokries carnival Greece
Children enjoy the carnival season in Athens. Credit: AMNA

In Athens, the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Municipality of Athens performed outside Zappeion. Hundreds of children had fun with stilt walkers, balloon makers, face painting, circus artists, pantomime and mascots.

The center of Heraklion, Crete, was overwhelmed by a crowd of people who came to watch the “Castro Carnival 2023”. The parade was followed by a closing ceremony and a party in Eleftherias Square with a rich music program.

Apokries the traditional carnival in Greece

Apokries is one of the most beloved traditions in the country, celebrated before the period of Great Lent, or “Sarakosti.”

It allows revelers to partake in all the food, dance, and celebration they can before the 40-day period of spiritual reflection begins.

During Lent, believers are supposed to reflect on the coming celebration of Easter, as well as the days before it that mark the suffering and death of Jesus.

Therefore, the faithful abstain from eating a variety of foods during Lent, most notably meat — the word “Apokries,” which roughly translates to “abstaining from meat,” comes from this practice.

While Apokries festivities are celebrated in the weeks before Clean Monday, “Kathara Deftera,” the first day of Lent, they culminate in the weekend just before it.

Kathara Deftera falls on Monday, February 27,  this year, and on that day families traditionally spend the day outdoors, flying kites and eating traditional foods.

On the weekend before, however, Greeks usually celebrate by dressing up in costumes, partying, and having a parade throughout the streets of their cities. These festivities are accompanied by live music, creative floats, and lots of confetti.

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