Tsiknopempti: What is it and why do we celebrate?

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Tsiknopempti is part of the traditional celebrations of Apokries – the Greek carnival season.

The celebration, which is also known as Charred or Smoky Thursday, is the last day Greek Orthodox faithful are allowed to eat meat before they begin their Lenten fast for Easter.

Origins:

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

Souvlakia are a favourite for Tsiknopempti.

The widespread smell of burning meat from any household which could afford meat, led to the naming of the day ‘Tsiknopempti.’

The custom itself is said to originate as far back as the Bacchanalian feasts of the ancient Greeks and Romans, which survived with only a few changes until Christian times.

How do people celebrate?

Aside from barbecuing meat, people also dress up and have some fun with their neighbours.

Tsiknopempti occurs during Apokries.

In the villages, people walk around in groups from house to house, knocking on doors and asking for a treat and some wine, which were both consumed on the road.

The custom also included some “minor damage” to the outside of houses, as people would knock down flower pots to spill the dirt. They would then smear their faces with the dirt and party on until the next morning.

Source: The Athens Centre.

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