Carnival in Greece
In the Greek Orthodox Church, all the dates of the Easter Season are based as in the Western Church on the date of Easter Sunday. I have explained in detail above how this is calculated. Carnival is, to put it simply, the last chance before the start of Lent to once more indulge without limit in culinary and alcoholic pleasures.
Greek Carnival season covers three weeks that each have their own name: Profoní, Kreatiní and Tirofágou. During this entire period, people sometimes dress up during the communal celebrations.
Profoní is Preannouncement Week, practically the run-up to Carnival.
Kreatiní, “Meat Week,” is the climax of Carnival. Here once again you can really party and give in to gluttony. This is the last opportunity for unbridled meat consumption. It is celebrated in particular on Tsiknopémpti, “Smoky Thursday”. This is the time for endless barbeques. On Milos there are already barbeques in the open air outside many restaurants as early as midday on which souvlaki and other meaty dishes sizzle en masse. Sometimes Tsiknopémpti is equated date-wise with the German Weiberfasching (Women’s Carnival) but that is incorrect. Weiberfasching is the Thursday before Carnival Weekend whereas Tsiknopémpti falls a week earlier.
At the end of Kreatiní, Carnival parades are usually held that are comparable with those in the Carnival strongholds of Central Europe.
Tirofágou is “Cheese Week.” It is still not part of Lent but, in theory at least, the fun is somewhat muted. It is suggested that you already do without meat. So all that is left is dairy produce and eggs, and even these are dispensed with one week later in Lent. However, in reality Carnival activities continue at a constantly high level from Smoky Thursday right to the start of Lent.
End of Carnival season
In the Western Church, Lent starts with Ash Wednesday. In the few days before that, in other words at the weekend, on Rose Monday and on Shrove Tuesday, the Carnival activities build up to their maximum. By contrast, in the Greek Orthodox Church, Lent begins as early as the Monday that is equivalent to the Monday before Lent in the West. This is the “Kathará Deftéra,” “Clean Monday”.