Today is Tsiknopempti for 2017, otherwise referred to as the week of Kreatini. This is the day of the year when large amounts of meat are traditionally consumed by Greek Orthodox people around the world, just before the arrival of Lent, the fasting season leading up to Easter.
It’s all about cuts of pork, lamb, beef, goat or any other meat of your choice and with a huge emphasis on grilling and charcoal. Virtually every taverna and restaurant in Greece will put on special menus for Tsiknopempti.
By far, the most common item will be some variation of souvlaki, which will be available everywhere- from main cities, to little villages and on remote islands- you are bound to find people lining up to grab some meat on a skewer.
Beyond the standard grilling, each region of Greece also has its own customs and traditions which are celebrated on this day every year.
What is certain is today is one of the busiest day for butchers around Greece and Greek households will be preparing and enjoying their favourite meat dishes, creating a cloud of smoke where it is being cooked.
This gives Tsiknopempti one of its other common names, “Smoke Thursday” or “Smoked Thursday,” it’s also called “Barbecue Thursday” or “Grilled Thursday” by some.
Greek communities around the world celebrate Tsiknopempti, and many Greek Orthodox church groups arrange special events to mark this day.
The following week, the last before Lent, is called “Tyrinē” (Greek: Τυρινή, “cheese week”), because eating meat is not allowed, but dairy products are. The Great Lent begins on Kathari Deftera “Clean Monday” the day after “Cheese Sunday”.