What is Apokria
Apokria is a carnival, which gives a person the opportunity to enjoy plenty of fun before Great Lent, the strictest In the church year. Such a serious test is preceded by a ten-day carnival, which the whole family loves. Colorful, costumed, fun in every way. Moreover, costumes, as a rule, are sewn independently. During this period, friendly parties are held in Cyprus, many guests gather, especially those who have not been seen for a long time. The music and the noise of the drums are scattered all over the country! This is the time of the most magnificent carnival! In Limassol, a real procession of mummers and dancing beauties takes place.
Apokria begins on Thursday of the previous week, which Cypriots call fragrant or cycnopefti. After it, until the beginning of the "Cheese week," Cypriots prepare meat dishes. In addition to varieties of meat roasted on an open fire, during the first week of the carnival, hostesses make ravioli and burechia with meat filling. After all, you have to eat well! For sweets, special treats are prepared: kataifi (sugar cakes made from dough soaked in rose water syrup) and daktila (delicious cakes stuffed with almonds). By the way, it will be noted, what dactyla means. From Greek, it's translated as "fingers". There is a mountain in Cyprus called Pentadaktylos, which means Mountain of Five Fingers. So it was nicknamed in connection with the appearance, reminiscent of five human fingers.
The carnival ends on cheese Sunday, tirofagos. The meat filling in ravioli and burechia is replaced with cheese and cottage cheese. Fragrant burekya stuffed with halloumi cheese and chopped mint are especially delicious. Celebrations end with the largest festive procession. Neighbors, acquaintances, friends, close and distant relatives sit down at one friendly festive table and try to eat all the dishes that have been prepared. After all, fasting begins tomorrow, so the table must also be cleared of all kinds of dishes.
There are different versions of the history of its occurrence. According to one of them, the word "carnival" contains two Latin roots: carno (meat) and vale (goodbye). Since ancient times, this holiday took place 40 days before Holy Week and was a kind of frontier beyond which Great Lent began. In another version, the origins of the carnival are in pagan ceremonies, and the word itself arose from the Latin carrus navalis. This was the name of the ritual wagon, on which the idols of fertility were carried on holidays in Europe. When Christianity replaced paganism, many traditions and holidays were banned. Came under him and the carnival. But centuries passed, and in the Renaissance, the holiday returned to Europe, frightened by the Inquisition. He took root and firmly entered the traditions of different peoples. The most famous in the world was the Venice Carnival. Later, Europeans brought it to almost all continents of the planet, and the locals adopted this tradition with pleasure. Grandiose carnivals are held today in Brazil and Goa.
This holiday of general fun did not bypass the small island of Cyprus. Here the fast lasts not forty, but fifty days. And Carnival (Αποκρία) takes place in the last ten days before Lent (this year from February 28). In different cities of the country, grandiose processions go through the streets, costume shows are held in nightclubs, hotels, universities, schools, and even kindergartens. The first five days of the Carnival are called "Meat" and give the last opportunity to eat meat dishes before fasting. The second is called "Cheese" and this is the time when cheese and other dairy products are still allowed to be eaten. The carnival ends on the Sunday before the start of Lent. This holiday is rooted in pagan traditions and represents an explosion of joyful emotions before the strict Great Lent.
In Greek, the word carnival ―"attokru" ― means the end of meat-eating. The excitement of the celebration at carnivals is achieved by the complete emancipation of the person under the mask. Everyone believes that under the mask a person is unrecognizable and can behave as he or she pleases. And the very first carnival in Cyprus was held in Limassol in 1890.
What time does the carnival start?
The carnival procession starts at 13:00 and lasts about 2 hours. After that dancing, fun, and fireworks take place until 22:00. On the eve of Carnival, photo exhibitions and photo contests on the theme of Carnival are usually held. Exhibitions and sales of carnival masks and costumes are also organized.
The history of the carnival in Limassol
The carnival that exists today in Brazil, Italy, and, to our joy, in Cyprus. It came out of the medieval carnivals of Venice and Rome. He managed to adapt to the traditions and conditions of each country while maintaining its main features. And this is exactly the largest carnival in Cyprus ― Limassol.
So, in 1878, Limassol came under the control of the British governor, Colonel Warren. His genuine interest in the city played a big role in the development of the cultural life of Limassol. The first mention of the carnival dates back to 1890. The British who settled on the island took part in fun social events with pleasure. Already in 1898, the first committee for the organization of festive celebrations was created. The annual carnival was established by the second such committee in 1906. Then the venue for the carnival was chosen ― the city of Limassol.
Today's program has not undergone major changes. Ten days before Clean Monday, the first day of Great Lent, on Thursday evening, the Carnival King and his retinue enter Limassol. For ten days all over the city in clubs and hotels, in parks and squares, in theaters and stadiums, fun reigns, romantic serenades sound, beautiful strangers hide their faces, everyone dances! On the first Sunday of the carnival, the city hosts the Children's Parade. The children of our generation have fallen in love and are looking forward to the holiday. Such sincere joy can only be seen in the eyes of these little participants. Family outings in the same themed costumes are also traditional: father-hare, mother-hare, and cute bunnies.
During the "Cheese Week" following the Children's Parade, residents and guests of the city actively participate in the festivities, sing, play folk musical instruments, dance themselves, and admire the performances of dance groups.
And here it is, the final big parade. On the last carnival Sunday, the King of Carnival and all the participants walk along Archbishop Makarios Street, scattering tons of confetti and serpentine, captivating with their rhythms and igniting blood. At the parade, you can see a variety of mise-en-scenes: from the beginning of the last century to the present day talk about poverty and abundance, ridicule stupid officials, boastful fishermen, and slow-moving policemen. Only these days you can find costumes of any era, any nation, any profession. And, of course, it is better to see once than to read a hundred times.
It is worth noting that Limassol City Hall does not pursue commercial interests in organizing the carnival, which is important in itself. Participants are supported, part of the money spent on the purchase of carnival costumes is returned.
In the whirlwind of the carnival, people have learned to throw off fatigue, liberate themselves, have fun, and love. This love is the source from which the traditions of our city are born. And, thanks to this long-awaited and beloved holiday, the soul of Limassol will never die.
What do they do at the carnival?
They dress up and make up, for example, as heroes of fairy tales and cartoons, and some men dress up as languid ladies in corsets, sexy nurses with huge syringes, or girls of easy virtue. And women can be seen in the form of a policeman or reincarnated as doges from Venice, dandies in top hats, or supermen with huge biceps.
Children bathe in confetti, eat cotton candy, popcorn and fool around, sprinkling confetti around and spraying foam from cans, And there are many more colors, crazy sounds from children's whistles, traffic jams at the entrance to Limassol, clogged hotels, as well as the lack of free parking and drunks.
The carnival continues, and the most exciting spectacles are yet to come. The involvement of the people is very impressive. You won’t say that everyone without exception goes out dressed up and has fun, but the impression is created just like that, and the fun attitude is the most serious, in the good sense of the word. The people are puzzled by the full program. Not anyhow, some kind of masks/wigs, but completely thought-out costumes. Even on the way to the Heroes' Square, when we were heading for the solemn arrival of the Queen of the Amazons, fairies, knights, batmen, bees, witches, etc. began to come across. And on the square itself ... What cannot be taken away from the Cypriots is their ability to have fun. And, once again on a sober head. True, beer was sold there.
You can visit the parade of antique cars, where you could sit and take pictures. Take part in the big children's carnival parade. Although it is for children, adults will like it. The sun, the music is thundering, the crowds of people, the costumes are colorful. It's nice that each group of participants did not just dress up, but corresponded to the chosen image and motto. That is, the people dragged on themselves not just the appropriate costumes, but also all the related accessories. Even the makeup was chosen ― it's in the clear.
Almost all groups not only defiled, but danced, and very, very well. Everything shows that the people are preparing, and preparing seriously. One can feel that the dances were rehearsed, moreover, to these specific melodies, and the idea is thought out very carefully, and the costumes are not sewn from colored paper.
By the way, at the children's parade, you may have a chance to see the Cypriot carnival joke for the first time: a group called "Limassol Marina" is a boat on which stood the "president" of the country, surrounded by "Arabs" in national costumes, waving wads of money.
The boat itself is also decorated with dollar signs and bags of money. One can happen to visit carnivals in Mexico and Rio de Janeiro. They also have fun, which is already there, only the local fun, in addition to the southern temperament, is also warmed up by a significant amount of local beer, coupled with half-naked dancers. With creativity across the ocean is tight.
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