Of course I’m a witch. No need to dress up!
So it’s back to that time of year again. Carnival time in Greece. The little festival where for 3 whole weeks we get to go completely pagan. Greece has a longer history with Christianity than pretty much any other area in the world but it has also never entirely forgotten its ancient pagan roots and the rituals pop up in various guises in a lot of Greek culture.
We are right at the beginning of Carnival or Apokreas, as it’s called in Greece, and today is Tsixno Pempti. I wrote a little about this food festival last year, too. It’s meant to be the time that people use up the last of their fresh meat supplies before the Lenten fast but it also has a touch of the ancient rituals of offering a sacrifice to the Gods, when the Greeks burned entrails in their honour. Nowadays, it’s mainly tavernas or home barbecues. Home barbies are much more popular these days. as people don’t have the money to eat out like they used to. So it will be mainly the still-monied filling up the grill rooms of Athens, while the rest of us go to barbecues or a Souvladzidhiko to get our fill of nice charred meat.
It’s still very chilly here in Athens but I’ll be going out to a bar in Exarchia tonite. Mylos on Zoodoxou Pigis. There will be a barbecue and music and as it’s carnival everyone is expected to at least wear a mask, hat, wig or funny glasses, if not full fancy dress costume. I’ll be wearing goth clothing to fit in with my witches hat because it would be rude not to.
Over the coming weeks leading up to the grand finale of Apokreas on Kathara Deutera, I’ll try to fill you in on the customs, rituals and foods that go with various parts of the festival leading up to lent. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but there’s no harm in repeating it, I’m not a religious person but I love Apokreas and Lent because the food is fantastic. I will be sort of fasting, mainly to take advantage of the opportunity to work my way through all my favourite Lenten dishes. Woo! Happy Tsixno Pempti, Paidia!