The Tradition of “Tsiknopempti”

The Tradition of “Tsiknopempti”

Let's meat up for Tsiknopempti!

Greeks do not need much encouragement to eat meat. And neither do we (apologies to all our vegetarian friends!). The tradition of “tsiknopempti” – literally Thursday Grill – is very much alive in Greece in 2018. Here’s what you need to know about this special day.

When does it take place?

On the Thursday of the second week of Carnival. In 2018, tsiknopempti falls on February 8 and Clean Monday or Ash Monday (the first of the 40-day Great Lent before Easter “Pascha”) on February 19.

What is its significance?

Carnival week (“Apokries” in Greece) is an interlude of entertainment and joy as one begins to prepare for the bodily and spiritual cleansing of Lent. The word “Apokries” which literally means “far from the meat,” refers to the carnival period immediately preceding the entry into Lent. Meat morsels are consumed in vast quantity during the first two weeks of carnival – called respectively “Profoni” (prelude) and Kreatini (week of meat) – while the third week, the focus is on milk and cheeses (Tirofagou).

What we eat that day?

Grilled meat (and lots of it!). In all the houses, barbecues are lit and delicious smells pervade the streets. Tsiknopempti is an opportunity to get together with family or friends to share a meal with meat or grilled sausages.

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