Apokries - Halloween Carnival in Greece
Halloween - Carnival
Otherwise known as Apokries, Apokrias and Carnival in Greece
Does Greece celebrate Halloween?
Actually no !
But there is a similar festival which takes place in February before Lent in the Greek Orthodox Church, called Apokries (or Apokrias). Apokries is also known as the Carnival (Karnivali) time.
It's all about dressing up and having fun, like a Halloween of sorts.
During the three weeks of the Apokries period Greece is alive with masqueraders. Adults dress up and throw parties or frequent the town cafes and bars dressed in masks, wigs and funny, scary or risqué costumes. For example men often dress up as outrageous women with high heels, short skirts, huge inflated false boobs and an overdose of lipstick, blusher and false eyelashes. Others may dress up as priests or wear masks of well known politicians, actors or film characters. They often carry props such as plastic battons, streamers, confetti, tins of foam, whistles and clackers; all adding to the rowdy party atmosphere.
Children - even babies - enjoy the fun too of course... masquerade parties are held in villages and schools for the young ones, who dress up in all manner of costumes from witches and warlocks to telly tubbies and angels.
Masqueraders use their disguises and masks to call anonymously at the houses of friends and neighbours, who try to guess their identities.
Cakes and sweets are offered to the masquerading children on these house calls, or shots of whisky or the local fire water to adults in disguise. This is usually a ploy to entice the masquerader to remove his mask to uncover his identity!
So similarly there is a kind of trick or treat -ing here in Greek Apokries, but ..... they get to do both. The treat is offered - the sweet, cake or whisky, but is then usually followed by the trick - throwing confetti, streamers or foam all around the house (yes I know it's tame, and just in fun, but you try cleaning up tons of the stuff from your carpet!).
At the end of the three week period Apokries culminates with the Grand Carnival Parades which are held all across Greece. The largest and most famous of which is held in Patras. There are also large parades held in Athens and in Rethymnon, Crete, amongst many others.
The Apokries period in Greece lasts for three weeks, and it's non-stop party time before the restrictions of Lent and fasting kick in.
The Carnival started in Ancient times, believed to be as worship to Dionysos, the God of Wine and Feast. In the Orthodox tradition Apokries is the preparation period before Lent. Apokries means literally saying goodbye to meat ...'Apoxh apo kreas' in Greek.
In 2016 Apokries starts Sunday February 21st and ends Sunday March 13th 2016.
Want to learn more about Carnival in Greece? Click Here
Patras Carnival, Greece
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