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Apokries - Halloween Carnival in Greece

Updated on January 27, 2016
Carolina Crete profile image

Carolina lives on the Greek island of Crete, has published a guide book and runs a website about 'Living in Crete'.

Well that's pretty scary
Well that's pretty scary

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.

Carnival in Crete
Carnival in Crete
Carnival in Greece
Carnival in Greece

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.

Help. She put a spell on me
Help. She put a spell on me
Dancing Priests
Dancing Priests

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

Halloween - Killer Costumes, Spooky music and more...


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    • profile image

      Sapinur 3 years ago

      M & D Adams, August 10, 2012 at 4:51 pm We stayed at the Lemon Tree for three nigths in June. Great fun in a traditional room but the visit was made memorable by the food. Mark can invent a new dish for you on the spot. If anyone is going near Handras suggest you hurry as it's the last chance for this food. Mark and Anita are returning to the UK at the end of this season as the children are now school age. We predict that in future his cooking will be a lot more exclusive and expensive!M & D Adams. Stamford UK

    • profile image

      Kara 3 years ago


    • profile image

      karnavalos 4 years ago


    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 6 years ago from Houston TX

      Funny and interesting article which has horrifying pics.

    • Carolina Crete profile image

      Carolina Crete 9 years ago from Crete, Greece

      In Latin the roots of the word Carnival has the same meaning - 'carne'' = meat and  'vale' = goodbye.

    • Dottie1 profile image

      Dottie1 9 years ago from MA, USA

      The Apokries in Greece sounds like a wonderful time. It was interesting to learn that Apokries was the preparation period before Lent and that Apokries means literally saying goodbye to meat... Thanks for a great hub.

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile image

      Anna Marie Bowman 9 years ago from Florida

      Three whole weeks?! Count me in!!

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 9 years ago from Southern California, USA

      The Greek tradition sounds more fun than the American one. Thanks for the interesting hub.

    • Carolina Crete profile image

      Carolina Crete 9 years ago from Crete, Greece

      Thanks for your comments Patty & Ryan. You can't beat a three week party! Yes it's great fun.

    • Ryan Hupfer profile image

      Ryan Hupfer 9 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      I wanna go! Halloween is my favorite holiday of all time, but this looks like just as much of a good time. Thanks for being a HubMobster!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thsi looks like it could be fun. Somewhere in Scandinavia they do this for 3 days, beginning in the middle of a cold night in February and continuing on with a 3-day party the next morning. Can't remember where it is, but I belive Life Magazine covered it one year.