Carnival was being celebrated in ancient Greece. Celebrations were being organized in honor of god Dionissos. Ancient Greeks got dressed in various costumes, wore masks and had fun in feasts for days. Cypriots kept this custom. The origin of Carnival traces back to the very past and is closely linked with the history of the Greeks.It seems that it is a festivity related to classical antiquity: the Dionysian festivals called “Dionysian”, during which a contest was taking place amongst three great tragedians of ancient Greece: Aeschylus, Euripides and Sophocles, three dramatists of our history.
…Carnival in Cyprus was associated with the beginning of the fasting of Easter. Carnival was called “Apokries” which means in Greek “without meat”. It was celebrated with feasts and traditional games. In addition, people got dressed in costumes and wore masks in order to scare others.
Just like many other festivities and cultural traditions, Cypriot carnival celebrations actually date back to the beginning of the last century, when homes in Limassol opened their doors and welcomed round friends and family for a feast of food and wine. Limassol holds the largest annual carnival in the island of Cyprus. The Limassol Carnival is an important institution: a tradition for the Limassolians, which remains alive and will survive throughout times.
The Limassol Carnival is however a feast that all of us expect to enjoy impatiently and willingly. It was celebrated in an organized way since the past, when groups of merrymakers from all the social strata of the city organized in their houses meetings and organized parades using donkeys, carriages, broughams and bikes. People of that area felt a vast satisfaction watching their fellow citizens disguised satirizing situations, persons and various things directly or indirectly linked with everyday life and the reality of their times.
Carnival is celebrated in towns all over Cyprus, but especially in the city of Limassol. In our days carnival events start on the “Shrove Thursday” (the last of eating meat) with the Carnival King entering the town in a festive atmosphere. Then follows, the children’s parade, the various Serenades’ shows and finally the Grand Carnival Parade which takes place on the last Sunday of the Carnival festivities.
Many people in fancy dresses participate to enjoy a special razzledazzle. Special consideration has been given to the decoration of the town. All the places where festivities are planned, as well as the central key points of the town, are decorated in an as ingenious way as possible.
Parties are held and people gather to feast, sing satirical songs and play games. The last Sunday of the “Cheese Week” is the highlight of the Carnival. This is when the Grand Carnival Parade takes place on the last “Green Monday ” or the first day of lent.
Colourful floats and groups of people, singing and dancing, parades in the main roads of Limassol create a truly festive atmosphere. The open-air celebrations and feasting take place throughout Cypriot towns but the Grand Parade in Limassol is the peak focus of the Carnival. During the Carnival parade large crowds from all over the island gather to watch the floats accompanied by the serenades and amazing costumed groups.