The Carnival & The Ancient Greeks:
Now there if there’s one thing that Cypriots love more than food and exploding off pork, it’s having a bloody good time! The roots of the Limassol Carnival trace all the way back to our weird yet beloved ancestors, the ancient Greeks. Dionysus, the god of wine and merriment celebrated fantastically by basically making something very simple into a full blown party. These were called the Dionysian festivals which involved dramatic performances where actors would wear masks and perform comedies/tragedies by classic playwrights.
Fast forward to the Venetians:
Now that you have the background of how carnivals began, the Limassol Carnival here in Cyprus is also heavily influenced by our even stranger ancestors…the Venetians. Ruling the island within the 15th and 16th century, the Venetian carnival was somewhat ‘Cypriotized’…turning it into one big fat Greek festival with food and a hell of a lot of drink!However, Cypriot monks were not impressed by the first displays of carnival action here on the island as they believed it was some kind of Alien ritual! Nevertheless, the Limassol Carnival is still very much a Christian tradition where it’s basically acceptable to be a bit naughty before fasting for lent. You’ll see crazily-dressed locals walking the streets like it is perfectly normal. Honestly now, don’t be surprised if you see pirates and nuns exchanging friendly banter between cartoon characters or even giant hotdogs…it’s just simply how it is.
Apart from all the costume malarkey, (see what I did there)…the Limassol Carnival is a real tradition for us here in Cyprus. Culturally rich and enthusiastic locals enjoy a three day weekend by partying hard on the Sunday until it’s time to sit back and relax before the beginning of Lent the day after…very interesting I may say! If you’re in Limassol or any city in Cyprus during the beginning of Lent, it’s pretty hard to escape it! Grab a mask, a couple of friends and a handful of confetti and get yourself partying!