Greece follows the tradition of Tsiknopempti even under lockdown

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Greece follows the tradition of Tsiknopempti even under lockdownEven today, the traditional Mediterranean diet, rich in vegetables, fruits, and seafood, still predominates in the country, and Greeks eat a great deal less meat than people in most other European countries

Tsiknopempti, a vital part of Greece’s Carnival season, or Apokries, is going to look quite a bit different this year due to the country’s strict anti-virus measures and national lockdown, according to greekreporter.com.

Known as the meat eater’s favorite holiday, the celebration of Tskinopempti, which roughly translates to “Smelly Thursday”, or even “Charred,” “Smoky,” or “Barbeque” Thursday, involves eating as much tasty barbecue as humanly possible — and later, partying all night.

The feast, analogous to “Fat Tuesday” in the Western Church, marks the final day of indulgence before Greek Orthodox Lent when the faithful are meant to fast and can no longer consume meat, or even dairy products.

Knowing that they will soon undertake a restrictive diet, in which meat, eggs, and most dairy products are not permitted, for the next 40 days, many believers use this opportunity to enjoy the tasty grilled meat and build up their strength for the coming period of fasting.

Tsiknopempti in the time of Covid-19

Even though “Tsiknopempti” has now largely lost its religious dimension for most Greeks, the ritual remains popular and is widely celebrated by families, couples, and friends — as well as hordes of meat enthusiasts.

While the tantalizing smell of grilled viands usually pervades the air in Greece, as people fill the streets, public squares, and church courtyards to set up barbecues and prepare delicious meat-laced skewers, this year’s feast will be very different due to the country’s national lockdown.

In the time of the Covid-19, the traditional Greek tavernas and big outdoor barbecue parties, popular spots on the holiday, will now be replaced with delivery services and celebrations at home with close family only.

When asked about the measures that will be in place during the beloved holiday, Deputy Minister for Civil Protection Nikos Chardalias underlined in late February that restrictions would not be eased and no exceptions would be made for Tsiknopempti.

“There will not be any variation to the existing measures, because crowding and mass movement could have extremely unfortunate consequences,” Chardalias warned.

He also encouraged Greeks to rethink the holiday, which usually includes eating large quantities of meat during the day and partying all night, as mainly a family affair.

“Let’s celebrate with our close family circle, with those who we have everyday contact with already, so that we don’t have a new breakout of the virus,” Chardalias recommended.

The origins of the feast

The name “Tsiknopempti” originated from the fact that on that special day, in many places around Greece, people would melt the fat from pigs, while groups gathered in homes to barbecue meat.

The widespread smell of grilled meat, called “tsikna,” from any household that could afford meat, led to the naming of the day “Tsiknopempti.”

The custom has ancient roots, as it is said to originate as far back as the Bacchanalian feasts of the ancient Greeks, which survived with only a few changes until Christian times when Christians fit the ancient holiday in with Christian theology.

The eating and drinking on this Thursday undoubtedly mark earthly pleasures, but it also has a spiritual value, as it now involves fortifying oneself before the rigorous Lenten fast.

In the older days, aside from barbecuing meat, the tradition also dictated dressing up and having some fun with your neighbors. In Greek villages, people walked around in groups from house to house, knocking on doors and asking for a treat and some wine, which was both consumed on the road.

The people who offered the wine and the treats also had to leave their homes, and join the group as it partied along. The custom also sometimes included some “minor damage” to the outside of houses in the village, as the celebrants would knock down flower pots and spill the dirt.

They would then smear their faces with the dirt and party on until the next morning.

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

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

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