The Tsiknopempti is an annual Greek tradition which celebrates the final days of eating meat right before Lent begins.
The word Tsiknopempti (smelly Thursday) comes from the words “smell of burning food” (the smell of burnt meat in particular) and “Thursday”. This is the day Greeks eat meat that has been fried or cooked on the barbecue. The food is either fried or barbecued because this method of cooking makes the food smell a lot.
Tsiknopempti occurs right in the middle of the 3 weeks of celebrating carnival (Αποκριες) in Greece. This is the Thursday of the second week, which is called creatine week (Κρεατινή), the week of meat. The week before that is Profoni (Προφωνή) and the week after that is the Tirofagu (Τυροφάγου), the week of cheese.
These three weeks are weeks of preparation for Greek Orthodox Christians as the 40 days period of Lent (Σαρακοστή) before Easter is approaching. The 40 days of Lent involves fasting on specific days and specific categories of food, including meat. This is why on Tsiknopempti it has become custom to cook on the grill and consume large amounts of meat, as a day of celebration before the long period of fasting.
For the modern day Greeks, Tsiknopempti is a day for gathering with friends, dressing up in funny costumes and cooking together. It is a day for having fun and celebrating carnival. If you walk the streets of Greece on this day you will see people dressed up, you will smell barbecues on the side of the streets, you will hear loud music and you will be invited out with friends to eat meat and drink wine. This is a day of celebration, joy and a bit of fun!
What will you be cooking for Smelly Thursday?
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Sia Aristidou is fascinated by the rituals and traditions celebrated in Greek culture. Sia writes about love, marriage, family and tradition and sells beautiful handmade wedding gifts at the Greek Wedding Shop.
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