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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Greece Series at GreekPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Greek holidays and observances. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 4 - Carnival. In Greek, it's called [απόκριες].
Carnival in Greece is a period of merrymaking, entertainment, and masquerade. The atmosphere is cheerful, featuring costume parties, lots of teasing, and carnivals that take place in the various regions of Greece. The Carnival lasts for three weeks and is celebrated seventy days before Easter, during the months of February or March.
In this lesson, you will learn about the history and customs of the Carnival season in Greece.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
What does the Greek word [καρναβάλι] or "carnival" mean exactly and where does it come from?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Carnival is the official opening of the Triodion period. The Triodion period is intended to prepare Greeks for the welcoming of Easter or [Πάσχα], and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ by featuring the acts of fasting, prayer, and repentance. The three weeks of Carnival are [Προφωνή] , the Announcement Week, [Κρεατινή], the Meatfare Week, and [Τυρινή], the Cheesefare Week. The Cheesefare Week is also called [της Τυροφάγου], which means “cheese-eating week.” The Meatfare Week or [Κρεατινή] ends with Meatfare Sunday, or [Κυριακή της Απόκρεω], because from this day forward, Greeks abstain from eating meat. Therefore, the Carnival is called [απόκριες] in Greek.
During the Cheesefare Week, or [της Τυροφάγου], Greek people eat plenty of dairy products as an intermediate step between eating meat and the fasting that characterizes the following period: Lent, or [Σαρακοστή].
Carnival is associated with ancient pagan events, particularly the worshipping of the god Dionysus, who was reborn to bring back the spring. Nowadays, the holiday’s traditional roots are represented through the use of animal-like disguises, mainly representative of billy goats, as well as large bells used to expel evil forces with deafening noises. One well-known custom is the "Janissaries and Boules" of Naousa or [Γενίτσαροι και Μπούλες της Νάουσας]. This custom features dancers wearing peculiar masks called [πρόσωποι], meaning “faces”, who wander around the streets dancing in specific steps. [Μπούλες] are men dressed as women, while the Janissaries wear the traditional Greek male skirt called [φουστανέλα].
Carnivals are organized in large cities, the most famous of which is held in the city of [Πάτρα]. Other well-known carnivals are those held in the city of [Ξάνθη] and in the municipality of [Μοσχάτο], in Athens. The Patras Carnival includes events such as dances, parades, a treasure hunt, and children's carnivals. They conclude with an evening parade of floats, followed by the ritualistic burning of the Carnival King or [βασιλιάς καρνάβαλος] on St. Nicholas pier in the harbor. The costumes of the participants, as well as the floats, are highly imaginative and occasionally satirical.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What does the Greek word [καρναβάλι] or "carnival" exactly mean and where does it come from?
The Greek word [καρναβάλι] comes from the Latin phrase carne levare, which, like the Greek word [απο-κριά], means “to abstain from meat.” Some experts, however, believe that it came from another Latin saying, "carrus navalis", which means "nautical carriage". The former view supports the Christian origin of the term, while the latter is of a more pagan origin.
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
If you had the chance to be in a Greek Carnival, what would you dress up as?
Leave us your comments on GreekPod101.com, and we'll see you in the next lesson.

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If you had the chance to be in a Greek Carnival, what would you dress up as?