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Greek carnival – Apokries

Greek carnival – Apokries

My daughter Dora says that sometimes she feels like she’s in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Born in Greece but raised in the Netherlands, she is at home in both countries. What reminds her most about the movie is when I tell her that a word she’s using has a Greek root.

Traditions of Greek Carnival

One example is apokria—which has its roots in ancient Greece. The English word “carnival” is derived from the Latin carnem levare or carnis levamen which means that the consumption of meat is forbidden. The Greek word means exactly the same.

The traditions of Carnival date back to ancient Greece and the festivals for honoring Dionysus, the God of wine and revelry. People celebrated the end of winter and the beginning of spring. They wore costumes and ran about the streets, teasing anyone who crossed their paths. Through the Roman Empire and later the discovery of the New World, this custom spread to other lands and peoples. And while Christianity put an end to the worship of the gods of Mount Olympus, people continued to wear costumes and make merry in the streets.

Meats and cheese

The Greek carnival period spans three weeks and different days are associated with different culinary traditions. One week, for example, features cheese dishes, another one meat. This is one element of Carnival, eating meats and cheese to lessen tasty temptations going into the Lenten fast.

Let me show you what Carnival on Poros looked like this past weekend!

Children came from all corners of Poros to celebrate.

The face painters never ran out of inspiration.

Blaring music set the stage for a day of dancing, games, and feasting.

The afternoon started with a treasure hunt in Poros-town.

As the sun went down it was time to party, again! The Poros revelers were in their seventies attire boogeying to the beat of the DJ mayor.

Photographer: Annette Spaan

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