Apocrea in Greece
Greek civilization constitutes of a mix of Classical (for some even Pagan) cultural elements together with Christian – Orthodox ones, that has created a unique mixture of celebrations! In Athens case, anyone may discover a cosmopolitan city you can visit all year long and enjoy a maximum of those. Best time to be here in Winter? After January and New Year’s Eve, February there is Apocrea in Plaka.
What is Apocrea really about?
As carnival season in many places around, like Rio de Janeiro, Greek Apokreas (=no meat season) is a period before Orthodox fasting, that includes partying, eating, drinking, dancing, playing, and celebrating, dressed up in special costumes. Most customs and traditions in Greece and the Greek Islands are of a religious nature, but some stem from paganism times and are indirectly connected to these times.
The last two weeks of Apokrea are when celebrations come to their peak, particularly during the weekends. The second Thursday before the end of Apokreas is called Tsiknopempte (<from tsikna, Kydathenean Aristophanes mentioned it, feeding Gods with meat smell), and here is the connection with pagan rituals. Actually, Tsiknopempte is the last day before the feast of 40 days (Sarakosti) before Easter. During that day, you need a reservation for a tavern, and meat consumption goes to the highest.
How celebrations escalate
After the weekend Apocrea where more celebrations occur, here comes Clean Monday, which is (Kathari Deftera) a part of the Easter celebration and marks the first day of the season of Saracosti, during which families go for a picnic, fly kites in local hills, such as the Acropolis Hill of Filopappou. Also, folklore dance celebrations take place and you can see all Greeks dancing together dressed in traditional costumes.