The power of Dionysus

By: pelly*made

Mar 20 2013

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Category: Archives, photos

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Like the word “Carnival” is made up of the two Latin words “carne” (meaning flesh) and “vale” (meaning farewell), the greek word “Apokria” is made up of the words “apo” (meaning from, or away from) and “kreas” (meaning meat)

The Sunday before Clean Monday is for Greeks the last day of  “Apokria” and the majority of Carnival Parades are held on this day

It comes down to us from the ancient worship of Dionysus. It’s no coincidence that Dionysus is the god of wine. Wine loosens inhibitions and brings a mellow, cheerful mood that reaches its peak in the Christian world a few days before people begin the long fast of Lent

In ancient Greece, the festival in honour of Dionysus took place in early Spring, as Dionysus symbolised life’s rebirth after Winter. In the ancient Dionysiac revelry, the followers of the god ran through the streets wearing masks and brandishing giant phalluses as they sang rude songs.

Today, during carnival people dress up and enjoy the freedom of anonymity. Of course the mask plays an important role and is the descendant of the ancient identical clay masks worn by actors in ancient Greek comedy and satyrical drama. Masks let their wearers lose their serious and respectable selves and have fun, forgetting their worries and problems

The word “carnival” may bring to mind the Rio Carnival of Brazil or the Carnival of Venice in Italy, but important carnivals are also held in Greece. The best-known is the Patras Carnival in the Peloponnese but there are also numerous traditional carnivals in Xanthi, Galaxidi, Kastoria, Rethymno and Drama where special ancient customs are reenacted, peculiar food is being cooked and the atmosphere is somewhat spiritual

I spent the last day of Apokria in a small country town in the greek mainland. The carnival parade there is far from being famous, trendy or flamboyant. I kept my expectations low and suddenly I realised that it was a lot of  fun! I felt the deep interconnection with the past. It was a pagan day of fun and masquerade for young and old, rich (?) and poor, a day under the influence of Dionysus 😛




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