I first arrived in
Greece, at the
beginning of February 1977, the winter season, no tourists and not much
I spent about ten days here before making a quick trip back to
England and returned by car.
We disembarked, Sunday lunchtime, at the
port of Patras, into the midst of absolute chaos; it was the
climax of the famous Patras carnival, the largest in Greece
and one of the biggest in Europe.
Thousands of people, or so it seemed, gone completely mad, all in fancy dress, dancing in the streets, Bony M’s “Daddy cool”, blaring from loud speakers, and the finale, the ritual of burning “The King Of The Carnival”
|King Of Patras Carnival|
What had happened to
Greece whilst I
had been away?
It was Apokries, meaning “goodbye to meat”
Apokries, the Greek carnival is not just a one day event, it starts about three weeks before lent, Smokey Thursday (so called, because of the smoke billowing out from meat being grilled) is one highlight, friends and family gather together and eat all the meat they can, they have forty meatless days ahead!
The following week, the last one before lent, is “Cheese Sunday” (Tyrine), as now meat is prohibited, but dairy produce is allowed.
The last weekend is the climax, all day street parties, and all night madness, the celebrations end with “Clean Monday”, a public holiday.
This is a day of picnics, non-fasting foods and unleavened bread, “Lagana” and then some kite flying, “The Koulouma” an ancient ritual, traditionally carried out on Philopappou hill in
Many a clean Monday has been spent with MGG (My Greek God) running up and down a Greek beach trying to launch a kite on a calm day!
|Koulouma, Flying kites on Clean Monday.|
Painting by Notis Xanthi
I never really enjoyed this carnival period, probably because my children thought that I was super woman, and could produce numerous fancy dress costumes, from nothing, and in no time!
Everyday seemed to be a dressing up day, school parties, friend’s parties or street parades, and they never wanted to wear the same costume twice!!
How I wanted my daughter to dress up in the beautiful princess outfits that were displayed in the local shops, she was having none of it, ever the tom boy; all she wanted was Batman or Spiderman!
When their teenage years arrived, I had a respite from my “creativity”, the carnival was not “cool”, it was for kids, I breathed a sigh of relief; this was the end of the dreaded carnival frenzy.
Then, just when I was not expecting it, it sneaked back!
At the age of about 24, my daughter and her boyfriend revived the frenzy!
Weeks before the event, they were discussing costumes; luckily, they had noticed my disinterest and didn’t involve me in this, ha, I had escaped.
But no, wait, Mother had to make, or assemble the costumes; it was starting all over again.
I do have to admit though, they had some very good ideas, and the end results were brilliant.
My favourite, was the one where they dressed as plants, I can’t tell you how long it took me to cover them in metres and metres of green leaves!
|I'm just a plant!|
As you can see, it was well worth it!
Can you spot Nais?
Then we had the “Rose Histories”
When talking about something smutty, or unmentionable, oh, all right, I’ll say it: porno, we say blue in
England, here in Greece
they say rose (Pink)
Here they are as Geishas; I did the make- up!
French mime artist, Marcel Marceau, again, I was roped into doing their makeup.
|Marcel Marceau, mime|
This year, nothing was mentioned about the carnival, I kept my mouth shut, didn't want to jog any memories!
It is the last weekend of Apokries, no strange items of clothing or tubes of white face makeup have been brought into the house.
Am I speaking too soon?
|Don't speak too soon!|
Are Nais and Dimitris, this very minute, out buying stuff, that super mum is expected to magically turn into a “work of art” costume?
I can’t finish this post, without showing some of the exquisite costumes, seen every year, at the Venice Carnival.
Venice is the carnival to
end all carnivals.
|Venice Carnival masks|
Enjoy this weekend of madness!!!