Within the three weeks of the carnival celebration, there is a special day called Tsiknopempti. It is the Thursday of the second week and comes ten days before Shrove Monday which is the initial day of the great lent before Easter.
On Tsiknopempti which is rightfully a feast day, the tradition demands that everybody cooks meat by using the grill, a frying pan or firing up the Barbecue so that the smell of melting fat fills the air. The origin of this tradition has been lost through the centuries so it has been followed with reverence year after year passing from one generation to the other without knowing why.
The smells of grilled cooked meals invade and occupy whole towns and villages, since every family has arranged a barbeque party with relatives and friends to celebrate with lots of wine. Taverns are packed with people who prefer to feast out and in central squares most of the municipalities arrange outside celebrations with lots of grilled meat, live traditional music and plenty of wine.
The word “Tsikno” “pempti” itself reveals its meaning. The wonderful aromas of the day are described by the word ‘tsikna’ which is the smell of burnt and grilled meat and ‘Pempti’ means Thursday in Greek.
In other countries and traditions you will find it by the name of “Fat Thursday”, “Barbeque Thursday”, “Schmutziger Donnerstag” in Germany, “Mardi Gras” in France and “Giovedì Grasso” in Italy.
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