People dress up in masquerades and dance in the colorful streets all over the country! The festivities in Greece have their origins in ancient times and the celebrations in honor of Dionysus, the God of Wine. The most festive season of Greece occurs three weeks before Ash Monday, when the Lenten Fast begins. The carnival period, else known as Apokries meaning abstention from meat, denotes the preparation period before the period of the Lent. Indeed, the roots of the word carnival have the same meaning, as it derives from the words carne, aka meat, and vale, aka goodbye. One of the highest points of the season is Tsiknopemti, when the celebrants enjoy roast beef with friends while the Lent begins on Clean Monday, when everybody goes off to the countryside to fly kites and eat seafood. Usually, the biggest happenings are held on the weekend before Clean Monday. Throughout the carnival period, people dress up in masquerades to participate in public celebrations and colorful parades. The largest carnival of Greece and one of the biggest carnivals in Europe is held in the city of Patra. It is a three day spectacle hosting balles masques, concerts, floats and parading troupes. The grand parade of Patra is held at noon of the last Sunday of the Carnival Season. Many other regions organize great festivities focused on the reenactment of the traditional carnival customs. In Tyrnavos, the Phallus Festival takes place, where giant painted effigies of phalluses made of papier maché are paraded and all women are asked to touch their reward for drinking a shot of the famous local tsipouro alcoholic spirit. The carnival in Corfu is deeply influenced from the Venetians, as it has its roots in the Middle Ages. In fact, the carnival resembles the carnival of Venice. The most renowned happening is the Great Parade held in Liston and Spianada Squares. The carnival of Xanthi offers an unforgettable experience, as it stands out for its focus on the folklore traditions of the wider region, the carnival of Rethymno distinguishes for its Venetian influences and its extraordinary festivities while the carnival of Skyros differentiates for its traditional customs. And let’s not forget about the Ragoutsaria Festival in Kastoria that takes place in January. Basically, it is a reenactment of the Dionysian ceremonies that make people forget about the problems of the previous year according to tradition. Dress up and celebrate!