Thursday, February 20, 2014

Carnival

Carnival (also known as Apokreo) is a ten-day festival in Cyprus that's primarily focused on fun and food.  This worldwide celebration begins two weeks before the fifty-day Greek Orthodox Lenten period.



According to tradition, the original concept of Carnival has been traced back to ancient Greek times.  Greek mythology claims that in honor of Dionysus, the ancient Greeks would wear various costumes and masks, play games, and feast on food for days and days.

After the Greek Orthodox religion spread to Cyprus, the Greek-Cypriots continued the custom of Carnival, by associating it with the beginning of the Greek Orthodox Lent.
 


Carnival officially starts on the Thursday of the Meat Week, and this specific day is known as Tsiknopefti, due to the all the extensive meat cooking.

The first week is known as the Meat Week (or Kreatini), since this is the last week that the Greek Orthodox will eat most meats (except for some seafood, etc.) until Easter.  The second week is known as the Cheese Week (or Tyrini), since this is the last week that the Greek Orthodox will eat most cheeses and other dairy products until Easter.

 
Even though the entire country of Cyprus celebrates Carnival, the city of Limassol is famous for its festivities, particularly the parades. 

On the first day of Carnival, the festival in Limassol begins with the King Carnival Entrance Parade.  Also, Limassol hosts the Children's Carnival Parade on the first Sunday, and then the Grand Carnival Parade on the following Sunday, which is the day before Green Monday. 

Cypriots mostly celebrate Carnival with costume parties, parades, and decorations.  From an outsiders perceptive, it seems like an elaborate and extended Halloween celebration.  :)



While the Grand Carnival Parade in Limassol consists of floats and various groups, the primary focus tends to focus on each group's unique (and typically matching) costumes.  Each of the participating groups in the parade have a different theme.  Some of the previous year's themes have ranged from various time periods, countries, animals, movies, musicians, etc.


The Grand Carnival Parade is quite an experience....

Thousands of people line by along the streets, balconies, and roof-tops to watch the parade.

Air horns and whistles are blown by the parade participants and spectators.

Confetti is tossed and silly string sprayed by everyone.

Cans of streamers and confetti are popped into the air.

Loud up-beat music is blasted from massive speakers.

Vans used as mini-shops are selling drinks and snacks.

Vendors are selling the noisemakers and balloons.

People continue to shout in Greek and various other languages.

Parade participants and the crowd majority are dressed in costumes and masks, etc.
 


This year, Carnival begins on February 20, and it ends on March 2, 2014.  The three main events in Limassol include the following:
  • King of Carnival Entrance Parade on Thursday, February 20, at 7:00 PM
  • Children's Carnival Parade on Sunday, February 23, at 11:30 AM
  • Grand Carnival Parade on Sunday, March 2, at 1:00 PM

For more details regarding the 2014 Carnival celebrations, visit the Cyprus Events website



To view a list of the 2014 public holidays in Cyprus, please click HERE As the year progresses, plan to visit this blog to view updates and descriptions of the various Cypriot holidays.

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