Crowds of revelers took part in the end-of-Carnival celebrations in Greece for the first time in four years
NAXOS, Greece — Crowds of revelers across Greece took part in end-of-carnaval celebrations this weekend for the first time in four years.
The COVID-19 pandemic has prevented the celebrations before the start of Lent in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
On the island of Naxos, which hosts the most colorful carnival events in Greece, the number of participating young people has increased this year.
Many of the observed customs are based on pre-historic rituals from the festivals of the changing seasons, while others are more recent.
The latter category includes the Lampadiforia held on Naxos, or a torchlight procession, in which young men and women parade, holding torches on poles, with their faces painted in black and white masks.
It first took place in 1994, on the Saturday evening before Lent, and was dreamed up by young members of a local cinema club. About 50 people took to the streets that year, holding torches and screaming and dancing, shocking other people as they marched toward Apollo’s temple.
This year, well over 2,000 torchbearers joined the procession, dancing to the beat of drums through the maze of narrow streets of Naxos’ old town to a central square where they burned a scarecrow.
In other parts of Naxos and mainland Greece, young men carrying cowbells and wearing phallic symbols — a common feature of ancient rites celebrating spring — danced in village squares on Sunday.
Other customs included young men wearing traditional costumes and holding thick canes, making their way to neighboring villages where they would invite local women to dance. And the women offer the men local delicacies and wine.
In Orthodox Christian countries, Lent and Easter are celebrated at different times than in predominantly Catholic countries because they use different calendars. Greek Orthodox Easter is usually a week later than Catholic Easter.
During the weekend, a carnival celebration took place in Cyprus as well.
Nellas reported from Athens, Greece.