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Tsiknopempti: The day Greece turns into a huge grill

Sunshine and mild temperatures are the perfect offer of ancient gods for the revival of the traditional Tsiknopempti, where the whole Greece turns into a huge grill.

Whether in the balcony, the garden, the small yard or on the rooftop, whether on pedestrian streets or pavements, charcoal is hot in the 50 shades of different BBQ grills and by 11 o’ clock the first meat cuts land on the plate.

My elderly neighbor is the only one who zealously keeps the tradition by the book, and I had my morning coffee on the balcony watching the smoke arising from his charcoal grill.

Beef, pork, chicken, turkey, sausages, meat patties are grilled over the hot charcoal or roasted in advanced grills and the tsikna – the smoke – fills the area.

Tsiknopempti or Charred Thursday or Smoky Thursday is celebrated eleven days before Clean Monday when the Great Lent before Easter starts.

Hundreds of Athenians lined up since early in the morning at the Athens meat market, Varvakios Agora, to taste delicious bits of spicy sausage, lamb chops and chicken. A glass of wine adds to the festive mood of the day and is all free of charge.

According to media reports, Varvakios Agora donated over 500 kg of meat for the festivities this year.
It is not only in downtown Athens where there is free meat. Two years after the coronavirus restrictions, several municipalities in Athens and other regions organize Tsiknopempti feasts as a heavy cloud of smoke full of meat fat and oregano arises over the country.

Note that we, Greeks, do not have a special wish for Τσικνοπέμπτη somthin like “Merry Tsiknopempti or something like that. all you hear on this day is “Πάρε! Πάρε!” meaning “Take!” meat, chicken, sausage, wine and tsipouro.

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  1. ‘Clean Monday’, is that the day that all children are playing with their home made wind kites? The day after all the carnaval celebrations?
    Or is that something else?