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CARNIVAL CUSTOMS in Corfu island (Kerkyra)

Tsiknopempti (the last Thursday of Carnival)
As in the rest of Greece, Tsiknopempti is the day, or rather the night, when everyone is obliged to eat meat because the forty days of Lent and fasting follow, leading up to Easter. Thus groups of people meet up in tavernas and homes to celebrate, with, of course, the inevitable accompaniment of wine and guitars. The Corfiot Petegoletsia (the Gossip) is re-enacted every year in the Old Corfu town center and is a very old tradition of street theatre in which, from windows overlooking the alleyways, the women exchange scurrilous gossip about what is going locally, in authentic local dialect. The performance finishes with traditional singing and musicians.

The Corfu Carnival Procession
The climax of the celebrations is the impressive procession of King Carnival on the third and final Sunday. King Carnival is 'he who takes onthe burden of sins' of the authorities, responsible for whatever bad things have happened during the previous year. He is brought to trial and sentenced to death by fire, so that all evil is burnt with him. Thus the procession concludes with a bonfire in which King Carnival is cremated, then his will is read and a great party with music and dancing follows

The Holy Wedding
In Chlomos, Marathias, Kritika, Giannades and certain other villages, the tradition of the 'Holy Wedding' still continues. The 'Carnival Wedding', as it was called until 1960, used to be performed in the majority of Corfu's villages, but it slowly died out in most places, remaining only as a memory. But fortunately, in other places, the custom has been preserved. It takes place on 'Cheese-eating Sunday' (Tirofagos or Tyrini), the last before Lent, and starts in the morning when the men of the village gather in one of the houses and dress the bridegroom. Meanwhile, in another heighbourhood, the women are dressing the 'bride'. The fact that the bride is actually a man, and moreover, moustachioed, probably owes itself to the rules of the patriarchial society, which forbade women to play an active part in the community activities. A demon in the form of a satyr also takes part in the marriage rites, doing its best to spoil the wedding. Throughout the whole ceremony the villagers shout obscenities without a break, teasing each other constantly.

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carnival in corfu

corfu island