Tsiknopempti: A meat eater’s “paradise” in Greece

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Tsiknopempti: A meat eater’s “paradise” in GreeceMany local traditions from all over Greece emerge on the day of “meat”

Time to fire up that BBQ as today is Tsiknopempti in Greece for 2019, otherwise referred to as the week of Kreatini, greekcitytimes.com reports.

This is the special day of the year where a large amount of grilled meat is traditionally consumed by Greek people around the globe, just before the arrival of Lent, marking the lead up to Easter and also the official start of Apokries (carnival season).

The event is always marked on Thursday (Pemti) and consists of the word “tsikna” meaning the burning of food. People who fast for 40 days without meat during Easter lent use Tsiknopemtpi as a day to eat as much meat as they want, right before fasting begins.

It’s all about cuts of pork, lamb, beef, goat or any other meat of your choice and with a great emphasis on grilling and charcoal. Virtually every taverna and restaurant in Greece will put on special menus for Tsiknopempti.

By far, the most common item will be some variation of souvlaki, which will be available everywhere- from main cities to little villages and on remote islands- you are bound to encounter people lining up to grab some meat on a skewer.

Beyond the standard grilling, each region of Greece also has its own customs and traditions which are celebrated on this day each year.

What is certain is today is one of the busiest days for butchers across Greece, and Greek households will be preparing and enjoying their favourite meat dishes, creating a cloud of smoke where it’s being cooked.

This gives Tsiknopempti one of its other common names, “Smoke Thursday” or “Smoked Thursday,” it’s also called “Barbecue Thursday” or “Grilled Thursday” by some.

Greek communities around the planet celebrate Tsiknopempti, and many Greek Orthodox church groups arrange special events to mark this day.

The following week, the last before Lent begins is called “Tyrinē” (Greek: Τυρινή, “cheese week”), because eating meat is not allowed, but dairy products are. The Great Lent starts on Kathari Deftera “Clean Monday” the day after “Cheese Sunday”.

 According to protothema.gr, equivalent celebrations include Fat Thursday or Mardi Gras

It is part of traditional celebrations for the three-week carnival season in Greece, held before Lent begins ahead of Easter. The first week is Profoni (prelude), the second week is Kreatini (meat week), the third week is Tirofagou (cheese week). Tsiknopempti is on the Thursday of the week known as Kreatini, when large amounts of meat are traditionally grilled and consumed before the fasting leading up to Easter. It is celebrated 11 days before Clean or Ash or Pure Monday, marking the start of Lent.

Festival origins

The custom originated from the Dionysian revelry of ancient Greece. As with other ancient rites and rituals, it was incorporated into Christianity.

Local traditions from around Greece:

  • Corfu – They play the gossip game. Petegoletsa (the gossip) takes place at the piazza (square) near Koukounaria.
  • Patra – The tradition of Koulourou stems from a tale referring to Yiannoula Koulourou who mistakenly believed that Admiral Wilson was madly in love with her. Each Tsiknopempti, she wears a wedding gown and heads to the port to meet him while people around her jeer.
  • Serres – Huge bonfires are lit on which to grill meat. People jump over the fires.
  • Komotini – Engaged couples exchange edible gifts. The groom-to-be sends the bride-to-be a chicken and she sends back baklava and stuffed chicken.
  • Herakleion, Crete – Young and old masqueraders sing and dance at central squares.

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinations Greek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons License: CC-BY-SA Copyright: Miyagawa

 

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