Patras Carnival

Patras Carnival

The Patras Carnival, Patrino karnavali is the largest event of its kind in Greece and the biggest in Europe.Fact|date=July 2008 It has more than 160 years of history. The events begin on 17 January and last up to Clean Monday. The carnival of Patras is not a single event but a variety of events that includes balls, parades, hunting of hidden treasure, kids’ carnival etc. Its apogee is in the last weekend of Carnival with the Saturday evening parade of carnival groups, the extravagant Sunday parade of floats and groups, and finally the ritual burning of king carnival at the St. Nikolaos Street wharf in the harbour of Patras. Its characteristics are spontaneity, improvisation, inspiration and volunteerism.


Most people agree that starting event of the Patras Carnival was a ball given in the residence of the merchant Moretis in 1829. However the carnival, as most carnival events in the Mediterranean and the Balkans, is connected with ancient pagan rituals, as those to honour Dionysus. According to these traditions, in the heart of the winter, the faithful invoke the deity with special feasts and he is reborn in order to bring spring once again. In modern period, French troops of general Maison stationed in the city after its liberation from the Turks, may have played a role in the creation of Patras Carnival as they may have brought carnival customs of their homeland and the carnival way of amusement which was adopted by the locals. Of decisive contribution in the development of the institution is considered to have been the influx of islanders to Patras from the Ionian Islands after their reunification with Greece in 1864. It is believed that with their mirth, their inventive disposal and their liveliness, the islanders altered the meaning of carnival celebrations in Patras, that at that time took place in taverns and cafes. Moreover, the location of the city itself with the flourishing of its harbour and the frequent contacts with the West and especially with Italy, with its eminent carnivals as that of Venice contributed to the configuration of carnival, so that even today it incorporates enough Mediterranean and western like characteristics.

Later on, and as consequence of the prosperity of the city in the end of 19th century the carnival festivities take a more regular nature. The first carnival floats appeared in the decade of 1870s. Then the floats were exclusively creations of individuals, only later did the Municipality of Patras undertake to construct a large number of them. In the same decade, in 1872, with contributions of rich raisin merchants the celebrated "Apollo" Theatre is built, and it entertains carnival dances, as it does precisely today, because the theatre continues to have a central role in the carnival celebrations. In 1880 on Saint Anthony's day the first "mpoules" appeared (teams disguised that hang around in the neighborhoods and with humorous disposal joke with friends). This custom tends to disappear nowadays. Besides, as the historian of Patras Carnival Nikos Politis testifies, beautiful carnivals were organized during the belle époque as in the years 1900, 1907, 1909 with the attendance for first time of individuals of each social class and origin. This period also gave birth to the egg-war custom, with wax eggs stuffed with confetti (made with special machines) which the carnivalists threw from the balconies. Although this custom has disappeared today, it is considered to be the precursor of the chocolate war.

The developments of the following decade were not favourable for the carnival; the continuous wars and conflicts (Balkan wars, World War I, Asia Minor campaign) send the men in the war front and brought economic crisis and desolation to the city. In the first postwar years the situation does not improve perceptibly, only some scattered events testify the arrival of Carnival. Obvious exception constitute the imposing and amazing carnivals of the years 1938 and 1939. Nevertheless, the World War II and the consecutive Greek Civil War bring a decennial obligatory interruption. In the beginning of the 1950s the first hesitant thoughts for a resurgence of carnival are expressed. The most pessimistic predict a failure: "nothing will be as before". However, the carnival is indeed reborn. The pioneer musical groups "Orpheus" and "Patraiki' Mantolinata" lead the effort. The Patras Carnival returns in the lives of the citizens of Patras but also all Greeks, especially those that could afford (mainly affluent Athenians) to travel in Patras in order to participate in the carnival, as in its famous Bourboulia balls. In the same period the Greek cinema depicts snapshots of carnival in its films. Yet more historic scenes can be seen in prewar films. Still in the 1950s, the carnival becomes the object of attacks, as fanatic Christian and other misinformed moralistic organisations roll up to Patras from other regions of Greece during the carnival in order to denounce orgies, corruptness, "Sodom and Gomorrah", but they are prevented from creating trouble by the police. The completely unfounded accusations meet with indifference or a feeling of nuisance by the citizens of Patras and visitors of carnival. It is characteristic that the local church does not sympathise with the troublemakers since it knows that the carnival is a completely innocent recreational event. Yet, in the same period in certain cases censorship is imposed in certain carnival creations which upset the establishment with their humour. Finally in 1964 the year of king Paul's death the Carnival was cancelled.

Under no circumstances could these limited exceptions shade the magnificence of carnival, which had already known Pan-Hellenic recognition while it also attracted the attention of certain international media. In 1966 the carnival was reorganized. The journalist Nikos Mastorakis introduces the Hidden Treasure Hunt in which 94 citizens of Patras and visitors with their cars take part. The first prize was won by a team led by a friend of the carnival from Thessalonica; his name was Alkis Steas and he presented the game starting from the following year. Thus, the late Steas became for decades the legendary presenter of the carnival, which was broadcasted by ERT and was watched by all Greek TV viewers. The presenter's expressions such as "the Carnival city of Greece", when he referred to Patras and "be happy" and "keep dancing!" when he referred to the carnival groups, remain historical. In 1974 the modern phase of the carnival begins, as the revelers are convinced to abandon their cars and parade on foot in the streets (until then only floats paraded). Since then each year the spectacle climaxes, the carnival has become gigantic and hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to Patras to witness the proceedings.

The Message of the Patras Carnival

The unique nature and the secret of success of the Patras Carnival are simple: as it was never an imitative representation of lost customs and traditions, it has always evolved as a carnival feast, in tune with each passing era. Thus, after 1968, when we have great changes in the views, the freedom and the entertainment of the younger generation, the latter find the Carnival gates open - and attractive - and their invasion has turned it into a mass celebration of youth. As a social result, thousands of young people abandon their idleness and the status of passive observer - consumer they occupy in their free time and get busy in creating, from a leading position, their own Carnival.

This social fact is the key for the interpretation of the following indisputable fact: up to 1900 we had, in Greece, a unique carnival of Patras and scant - no more than 10 - local carnival representation customs. Since 1990, in dozens of small and large Greek cities, usually by municipal initiative, carnival celebrations are organized, all in the footsteps of the Carnival of Patras (with parades of masqueraded youths).

This is a message, a proposal that, focusing on self-action, collective decisions and actions the leading entertainment role of the younger generation, has the power and merit to cross the national borders. The future holds the answer.

The Opening Ceremony

Irrespectively of when the Triodion falls,the three-week period preceding the first Sunday of Lent, it is customary for the Carnival of Patras on start on the day of St. Anthony (17 January). The opening ceremony takes place on George Square and includes pantomimes and patters, dances, endless music and fireworks.

Tsiknopempti in the Upper Town

On Tsiknopempti (A compound word originating from the words tsikna = the smell of roast food and Pempti = Thursday), roasting meat is a nation-wide custom, as the following day marks the beginning of Lent, until Easter. The festivities in the Upper Town bring to mind the popular version of the Carnival of Patras, as the streets fill will outdoor barbecues, live band music and folk musicians, choir concerts with songs from the first half of the 20th century etc.

The Children carnival

A spectacular, yet substantial, take on the traditional baby rally. The Children's Carnival includes a parade with the participation of masqueraded children's groups from nurseries, kindergartens, musical schools etc. Over 5000 children participate whereas the festival is completed by numerous game events and constructive activities. Their objective is to introduce the younger generation to the Carnival and to distinguish their abilities in artistic expression related to aesthetic or satirical masquerading.

The Treasure Hunt Games

The Groups constitute of either permanent companies of revelers or bevies from the city's high schools and lyceums, work colleagues, or neighborhood friends. As a group they share a name and a theme - which provides their name for each year - for their disguise. Depending on the members' carnival experience, culture and available time they opt for either their participation in only the parades or for participation in the treasure hunt games and contests. These games include questions on history, literature, maths or practical knowledge, the ability to find their way through hidden evidence scattered all over the city, artistic painting, pantomime and theatrical sketch contests or whatever else the organizers might come up with. The teams' performances in the various phases of the game are rated in order to nominate the grand winner.Several groups maintain offices or clubs during the carnival period and many organize parties and balls or even public shows in streets and squares. Some of these groups take part in the parade, having constructed a carnival float relevant to the theme of their disguise.The number of group members ranges from 50 to 300 people, even more in some cases. In 2006, 239 groups participated in the carnival. Over the past few years, their members include people from other cities who not only want to attend the Patras carnival but actively participate in its festivities.

Group members pay for the cost of their costume and contribute to other group expenses (for example the construction of the float, the organization of public shows etc.). Their large number (40.000) means that this is an enormous investment, the most significant in the whole carnival organization. The Patras carnival is therefore a carnival not only composed by, but financed, in its largest part, by the disguised citizens.


This is a traditional custom, exclusive to Patras. Afternoon dances where ladies enter free, with neither ticker nor partner, but with a long, airy "domino" robe and a mask, in order to avoid recognition and select their dancing partners by their own initiative. During an age when the relation of the two sexes was under close supervision, the Bourboulia formed an annual escape and the location of both real and imagined sensual adventures. Today they take place for tradition's sake.

The Saturday Night Parade

This is also called the "Nihterini Podarati" [Night Parade on foot] .In earlier years, only the Treasure Hunt groups could participate, without their floats. However, the last few years every group is free to join. Night, bright lights, an overwhelming stream of people, colors and high spirits combine, create a spectacular scene.


The Great Sunday Parade

The most eminent event of the Patras Carnival. The leading Municipality Carnival floats are followed by the endless groups. Despite the fast pace of the parade, the huge number of participants (40.000 over the past years) means that it lasts for hours. It crosses the entire city, under the eyes of tens of thousands spectators from streets, balconies and tiers and is broadcast by the National TV Network, as is the Saturday parade.

Closing Ceremony

An extension of the traditional festivities based around the burning of the float of the Carnival King, with concerts, dances, a farewell to the carnival past, announcements about the carnival to come and countless fireworks. It takes place at the port on Sunday night and is also broadcast on TV.


The dates of the most important events of the 2008 Carnival are:
*Opening Ceremony: January 17
*The Saturday Night Parade: March 8
*The Great Sunday Parade: March 9


External links

* [ Official website of the Carnival of Patras]
* [ A news video about the 2007 Carnival from Reuters]
* [ A video about the carnival from Travel Channel]
* [ Songs of the Carnival]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужно решить контрольную?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Carnival — For other uses, see Carnival (disambiguation). Carnival float in the Rosenmontag parade in Cologne, Germany …   Wikipedia

  • Patras — Infobox Greek Dimos name = Patras name local = Πάτρα caption skyline = the Roman Odeum of Patras city city districts = 11 party = since = periph = West Greece prefec = Achaea population = 171616 population metro = 210494 population as of = 2001… …   Wikipedia

  • Patras — Πάτρα Vista de Patras en verano. En primer plano el el muelle de Agios Nikoláos (San Nicolás) y …   Wikipedia Español

  • Federation of European Carnival Cities — The Federation of European Carnival Cities (FECC) was founded in 1980 and has been registered in the Court of Luxembourg. Member cities, organization and individual members are engaged in producing popular celebrations or carnivals which… …   Wikipedia

  • Nikos E. Politis — For other uses, see Politis. For other uses, see Nikos Politis. Nikos E. Politis Νίκος Ε. Πολίτης Born Patras, Greece Died 2005 …   Wikipedia

  • Henk van der Kroon — Hendrikus Ferdinandus Maria VAN DER KROON (born March 4, 1942, in Amsterdam) is the founder and president of the Federation of European Carnival Cities (FECC). The FECC is an international carnival association with over 500 members representing… …   Wikipedia

  • Патры — Эту статью следует викифицировать. Пожалуйста, оформите её согласно правилам оформления статей …   Википедия

  • Maslenitsa — (Масленица) Maslenitsa, Boris Kustodiev, 1919 (Isaak Brodsky Museum, St. Petersburg) Observed by Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian and Kazahstan communities worldwide Significance …   Wikipedia

  • Limassol — Λεμεσός (Greek) Limasol/Leymosun (Turkish) …   Wikipedia

  • Index alphabétique maritime — Projet:Maritime/Index Projet maritime Bistro du port Participants Actualités   Agenda Outils À faire …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”