Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Greek Festivals - Burnt Thursday (Tsiknopempti)

The carnival season has begun in Greece. After years of learning of the many different cultures that celebrate Carnival with such creativity and passion, I can't help but wish Carnival was celebrated in Canada. In Greece, parades and festivities last for weeks, with the most famous taking place in the city of Patras. This year, the main and last Carnival weekend before lent is from Friday 24th to Sunday 26th.

Grilling meat for Tsiknopempti
Photo Credit: Tomasz Huczek
Today is "Burn Thursday" -- Tsiknopempti: the tsikno means the smell of burnt and grilled meat and pempti means Thursday. It is held on the Thursday 11 days before Clean Monday, the beginning of Lent. The following quote from Nancy's Greek Food Blog encompasses what I've read about it:
"In the Greek tradition, Tsiknopempti (say: tseek-no-PEMP-tee) is a day celebrated with great gusto. City and town governments set up grills in central squares, musicians stroll around playing traditional instruments, and great quantities of roasted meats are consumed in the midst of the Carnival atmosphere. And it isn´t only central squares in cities and towns that will be filled with the smell of fabulous meats cooking over hot coals - our backyard grills and fireplaces will be fired up as well and the countryside fills with wonderful aromas." 
The simplest way to grill meat in the Greek fashion is to marinate a steak or a chop, whether of beef, veal or pork in a few tablespoons of olive oil, the juice of one lemon, garlic and oregano. Marinate for a few hours, turning the meat to coat both sides. Grill and enjoy!

Photo Credit: Tomasz Huczek

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