Tsiknopempti, the day Greeks eat large amounts of grilled meat

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Time to fire up that BBQ as today is Tsiknopempti for 2019, otherwise referred to as the week of Kreatini.

This is the special day of the year where a large amount of grilled meat is traditionally consumed by Greek people around the world, just before the arrival of Lent, marking the lead up to Easter and also the official start of Apokries (carnival season).

The event is always celebrated on Thursday (Pemti) and consists of the word “tsikna” meaning the burning of food. People who fast for 40 days without meat during Easter lent use Tsiknopemtpi as a day to eat as much meat as they want, right before fasting begins.

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.

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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 days for butchers around Greece, and Greek households will be preparing and enjoying their favourite meat dishes, creating a cloud of smoke where it’s 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 begins 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”.

Xronia Polla, Kali Tsiknopempti!

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