In Malia, the Association “Maliotiko Carnavali” is organizing a carnival parade on Sunday, March 10th, in 2019, at 15:00.
Apokries (Greek Carnival)
The Greek carnival (Apokries) has its roots in ancient Greece. It comes from the pagan rituals of the ancient Greeks and the celebrations in honor of Dionysus, the god of wine and cheerfulness. The English word ‘carnival’ comes from the Latin ‘carnem levare’ or ‘carnis levamen’, which means ‘abstention from eating meat’. In Greek, the word “Apokries” is used and means exactly the same. People were dressed up as satyrs or wore masks and flew out in the streets and neighbourhoods, behaving “provocatively” with explicit phrases and deeds.
This tradition eventually spread to other parts of the world through the Roman Empire and the discovery of the New World. However, pagan practices were so deeply rooted that they were not completely abolished. Later, when Christianity appeared and although people ceased to worship the gods of Olympus, the habits of the Greeks to disguise themselves and celebrate on the streets remained.
Once a year, carnivals occur in many cities and villages in our country. The carnival begins 60 days before Greek Orthodox Easter, lasts three weeks and this period is called Triodion. The first week is called “Prophonis” when it was announced that Apokries began and every family had to take care of its supplies. The second week is called “Kreatini,” (Meat Week) because it’s the last week to eat meat. Especially on Thursday this week, the so-called “Tsiknopempti” (Tsikna Thursday), people bake meat in all houses and the smell of roast (tsikna) fills the air in the neighborhoods. The third week is called “Tyrini” or “Tyrofagou” and “Makaronou” (Cheese Week). During this period, it is only allowed to eat dairy products, mainly cheese accompanied with macaroni in order to be prepared for the fasting of the Great Lent.
The carnival events are at their peak at the last weekend of the Apokries by having a carnival parade of the chariots and the masqueraders followed by the burning of the King of Carnival, and ending with an outdoor music-dancing feast until the early hours of the day, bidding in this way farewell to the carnival that ended.
In the Municipality of Chersonissos, the Greek Carnival is celebrated with great joy, color and imagination.