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Tsiknopempti | Easter Greece | A Meat-Lover's Dream Day

Updated: Jan 31


George Papadellis | SG Head

with some good tips from AI

Tsiknopempti (meaning Thursday that smells grilled meat) is a Greek holiday that takes place on the Thursday of the second week of the Greek Carnival. The first week is called Profoni (means pre-announcement), the second is called Kreatini (means eating meat) and the third is called Tyrofagou (means eating cheese). It is a day when people traditionally consume large amounts of meat and enjoy the company of friends and family. This holiday is also known as "Smoke Thursday" or "Barbecue Thursday" because of the delicious aroma of grilled meat that fills the air.

Tsiknopempti | Easter | Shiny Greece

Photo by: Wix

It is actually one of the church traditions, because it flags the last day to eat meat before the Lent, the 40 days until the Easter. The custom is said to be connected with ancient Greek bacchic celebrations for the fertility of lands in the spring.

In some areas, there are some more celebrations apart from meat grills, e.g. in Serres where big fires are lit and people jump over them, or in Komotini where a chicken is being roasted to be eaten after 10 days (Sunday of the Carnival).

The tradition of Tsiknopempti dates back centuries and is deeply rooted in Greek culture. It is believed that the name Tsiknopempti comes from the Greek word "tsikna," which means the smell of roasting meat. Greeks have been celebrating this holiday for generations, passing down recipes and customs from one family member to the next.

On Tsiknopempti, it is customary to gather with friends and family and enjoy a large meal centered around meat. Grilled lamb, pork, and beef are the most popular choices, and they are often marinated in olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice before being cooked over an open flame. Along with the meat, Greeks typically serve a variety of side dishes, including Greek salad, tzatziki sauce, and roasted vegetables.

For those who cannot eat meat, there are also plenty of vegetarian options available. Spanakopita, a spinach and feta cheese pie, is a popular choice among vegetarians, as well as grilled vegetables and salads.

Tsiknopempti is a day of celebration and feasting, and it is a time to appreciate the joys of life and the company of loved ones. Many Greeks spend the day outdoors, grilling meat and enjoying the warm weather with family and friends. Children often participate in the festivities, playing games and enjoying the food with their parents and grandparents. Whether you are a meat-lover or a vegetarian, there is something for everyone on this day. So, gather your friends and family, fire up the grill, and enjoy a day filled with good food, laughter, and love!

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The day of this festive table was established on Thursday because for the Orthodox Church Wednesday and Friday are fasting days. The word "Tsiknopepti" is obviously derived from the word "tsikna", as the smell of roasting meat is called.


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