Almost all Christian nations have a tradition of a festival before Lent. We have this festival called Shrovetide, the Greeks Apokria. Our main dishes are pancakes and butter, the Greeks have meat and more meat.
The Greeks joke that during Tsiknopempti they try to eat enough meat to digest all 40 days of Lent.
Tsiknopempti Day comes 11 days before the start of Lent (Clean Monday). In 2020 — February 20, 2021 — March 4, 2022 — February 24, 2023 — February 16, 2024 — March 7, 2025 — February 20.
The festival lasts a week, culminating on Thursday. The most popular dish on Tsiknopempti is called «souvlaki» — this is meat grilled on skewers, just like the shish kebab we know. For this reason, this day is called «Smoking Thursday» or «Roast Thursday». It is also called the «Feast of the Carnivores».
The name «Tsiknopempti» consists of two parts. «Pempti» translates as «Thursday» and «tsikno» translates as a strong smell of meat. The correct translation of the name is «fragrant Thursday». By the way, an interesting fact: the word «pempti» («Thursday») in Greek means «fifth». That is, this is the fifth day of the week, for the Greeks the week begins on Sunday.
Vegetarians during the Apokria festival in Greece are not particularly interested. But after the beginning of Lent, it is simply a paradise for vegetarians here. All restaurants have a lenten menu, even McDonald`s here launches a lenten menu during Lent.
For tourists, the holiday is noticeable, all restaurants and cafes post advertisements for meat dishes. However, there are few tourists in Greece at this time, the festival falls in February or early March.