Friday, February 29, 2008

Tsikno Pempti (Grilling Thursday)

Last night (Thursday), we went down to the center with our friends and neighbors, the Harpers (John, Marina and baby Emilia), and a new couple we met -- an American man who teaches at a local American-style university and his Greek wife and just recently became our car insurance agent.

Anyway, Thursday was Tsikno Pempti, which is the last Thursday (and one of the last days) to eat meat before Lent. This Sunday is Meatfare Sunday, which is the last day for meat. The following Sunday is Cheesefare Sunday, which is the last day before the beginning of Lent proper.

Psito Pempti has sort of a Carnivale atmosphere. The tradition is to dress up (Arab sheik seemed to be a popular costume) and party. Individuals and businesses set up grills out on the sidewalk and roast meat which they sell or even give away. In Aristotle Square, the main pedestrian area in Thessaloniki, they usually have a concert. Last year, the Scorpions played. This year, though (at least while we were there), it was a performance via video.

The weather has been very spring-like the past few days, so we found a little restaurant tucked away in an alley and sat outside, eating meat and Greek salad. Afterwards, we walked around the chaos in Aristotle Square briefly. It's quite an experience. I think once in a lifetime will probably be enough for me. :)

In addition to Arab sheiks, Orthodox monk/clergyman was also a popular costume. We could tell that some people were trying to figure out if I just had a really good costume! One reveller even asked me.

Anyway, the top photo has St. Sophia in the background. This is a landmark right in the middle of Thessaloniki, and it is where St Gregory Palamas preached his famous sermons on the uncreated energies of God. Nothing quite like that was happening last night. In this photo, some sort of band was parading by.

The second photo is of Pelagia, Marina and baby Emilia eating cotton candy in Aristotle Square. Our Greek friend, Fotinie, insisted that they wear the jester's hats. She tried to convince me to wear a cowboy hat or a zorro hat, but I demurred.

The third photo is of our group (including our friend Philip) in Aristotle Square. The final photo is of one of the many people grilling outside.

For a few more photos, click here.

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