Today is Tsiknopempti
Tsiknopempti is the Thursday during Greek Carnival or the “Greek Mardi Gras” period which marks the beginning of the last weekend that observant Greek Orthodox Church members can “legally” eat meat. Tsiknopempti is celebrated eleven days before the start of Lent (Sarakosti) on Clean Monday.
Because of this, everyone rushes to prepare and enjoy their favorite meat dishes, creating a cloud of smoke where it is being cooked. This gives Tsiknopempti one of its other common names, “Smoke Thursday” or “Smoked Thursday”. It is also called “Barbecue Thursday” or “Grilled Thursday” by some. It’s a popular day for going out to eat and enjoying as many different meats as possible. It can also be called, as a joke, “Feast of the Carnivores”.
Meaning of Tsiknopempti
In English, Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday” and so Tsiknopempti is sometimes also called “Fat Thursday” – which is logical as the cooking of all that meat results in vast quantities of fat dribbling down onto the coals.
In Greek letters, Tsiknopempti is Τσικνοπέμπτι. In Greek, Thursday is Pempti (Πέμπτη), meaning the fifth day of the week as Greeks count Sunday as the first day.
The word tsikno (Τσικνο) refers to the smell of cooked meat – however, “Smelly Thursday” has not caught on as a translation.
Typical Tsiknopempti Recipes and Menus
Meat is king, with the emphasis on grilled meats, though the occasional stew pot will be visible. Here are some Greek grilled meat recipes suitable for Tsiknopempti.
Some hotels and virtually every taverna will put on special menus for Tsiknopempti. By far, the most common item will be some variation of souvlaki – meat on a stick. These will be available everywhere along the streets in the taverna areas and walk carefully to avoid banging into an unexpected grill mostly obscured by smoke, sharing the already narrow streets and walkways.
Greek communities around the world celebrate Tsiknopempti, and Greek Orthodox church groups may arrange special events. Greek restaurants catering to local Greeks will also add on specials for the day or weekend; this is less likely in a restaurant with a mainly non-Greek clientele. Cities with “Greek Towns” are also likely places to enjoy a taste of Tsiknopempti outside of Greece. Some of these include Chicago, Illinois; Toronto,Canada; and Melbourne, Australia.
Cyprus also vigorously celebrates Tsiknopempti, with parades and other events.
An equivalent of Tsiknopempti is also celebrated in Germany (“Weiberfastnacht”), Spain (“Jueves Lardero”), France ("Mardi Gras") and Poland, but there they are adhering to the Western calendar for Easter, so the date differs. Most Eastern Orthodox and Greek Orthodox church calendars will be in alignment for Tsiknopempti and the rest of the Carnival, Lent, and Easter seasons, but there are some exceptions for faith groups adhering to a different variant of the old calendar.
2016 Greek Carnival Dates
Triodion: Sunday, February 21st
Tsiknopempti or "Burnt Thursday": March 3rd
Tsiknopempti Weekend: Friday, March 4th - Sunday, March 6th
Main Carnival Weekend: Friday, March 11th - Sunday, March 13th
Clean Monday: March 14th
2017 Greek Carnival Dates
Triodion: Sunday, February 5th
Tsiknopempti or "Burnt Thursday": February 16th
Tsiknopempti Weekend: Friday, February 17th - Sunday, February 19th
Cheesefare Thursday: February 23rd
Main Carnival Weekend: Friday February 24th-Sunday February 26th
Clean Monday: February 27th
Photo report of Tsiknopempti in the streets of Chania from today: http://www.haniotika-nea.gr/tsiknisma-a ... n-chanion/