Carnival is one of the biggest celebrations in Cyprus that has been celebrated for centuries. It may have been influenced by Greek traditions, which originally celebrating Dyonisos, the god of wine and festivities. Many cities and villages organize carnival events, but the largest and the most colorful one is held in Limassol. This year, we went to Limassol, the town of Carnival, just to enjoy this simply pleasure event and also to get some ideas how big is the event compared to the famous Carnival in Brazil we often see in the news.
The roots of the words Carnival is Carne means meat and Vale means goodbye. So carnival literally means goodbye to the meat or called Apokreas in Greek. Carnival is the festive season before Lent, when during 6 weeks of lent before Easter are fasting period (or other pious practices), which mean no parties or celebrations and people refrain from eating meats and dairy products. Therefore the tradition is the during the days before Lent, all kinds of meat, meat-based food and dairy products had to be disposed and (big) party is one way to do that.
The carnival festivities begin on the last week of eating meat, which particularly celebrated as Tsiknopempti meaning Meat Day or Grilling day. Some people also called it as Smoke Thursday, Fat Thursday, or Shrove Thursday, but the essence of Tsiknopempti is all about eating meat, smoked, grilled, broiled meat and meat and more meat :). Though most of the Cypriot families prefer made their own barbecue at home and invited their friends and relatives, almost every local restaurant (tavern) will host a grilled meat party or at least will put special menu for Tsiknopempti. Even my hubby’s office hosted their own grilled meat party in the office roof top :). Oohhh the smell of mouthwatering souvlaki and barbeque is anywhere, so goooood :).
And the carnival festivities are closed at the last Sunday of cheese week, by the grand parade which is the highlight of the carnival festivities. This grand parade involves hundred and even thousand people dressing up in fancy and colorful costumes, walking along the city, playing music and dancing. This celebration also a sort of winter-farewell party to welcome beautiful Spring day.
In fact, you may have felt the mood of Carnival 2 weeks or a month before the grand parade, where stores start to sell variety of fancy costumes.
I went to Jumbo – the largest toy (and other not-so-important-stuffs) stores in this island and it’s amazing to see hundreds variety of costumes and accessorizes. Alternatively some people rent the grande one from carnival costume shop such as Koumis and Mavrides Costumes.Restaurants, cafes, bars, organized a lot of costume party event, even in some school especially pre and primary school had a costume party for their students. Cute hey !!
So here some pictures of the carnival in Cyprus ( Nicosia and Limassol) that involved more than thousand people and almost hundred theme of costumes.
I hope you enjoy reading this post, and soon we will come back with the story of Green Monday/Clean Monday.