Carnival in Rhodes brings beads of assorted colors, outrageous costumes, garb and all out fun. The festivity culminates on last weekend of Apòkreo in the streets of the Medieval Town with street theatre, pantomime, juggling, sleight of hand tricks, stilt walking, comedie de l’Art and concerts are organized covering all types of music (renaissance, Byzantine, Greek popular, traditional and island music). Elsewhere on the island groups of masqueraders called kamouzèles make their appearance with loud noise, joking and teasing the people. The locals celebrate the end of this period with traditional music, funny improvised poems, wine, much ouzo and traditional tidbits.
The Carnival (Apòkreo or Apokrià) in Greece is a 3 weeks long celebration before the Ash Monday when it is the custom to masquerade. As its name suggests is a period of abstinence from meat that leads to Lent and the preparation for the biggest holiday of Orthodox Christianity, the Easter. Allows people to have some fun before Lent starts on Ash Monday. During Lent Christians fast to mentally and physically prepare themselves to participate in the Passion of Christ during Holy Week.
The roots of the Apòkreo customs can be traced back to antiquity. They are related to the celebrations honoring of the god Dionysus, where enthusiasm, gaiety and banter prevailed. When Christianity became the dominant religion, elements of ancient Greek worship were incorporated into the customs and traditions pertaining to the period before Lent. In the past, the festive atmosphere was created by groups of masqueraded people who roamed the streets during the night, singing ribald and satirical songs. In the recent years more standardized celebrations have prevailed, strongly influenced by foreign customs with fancy costumes and float parades organised by the local communities. The most important carnival in Greece is held in Patras. The carnival festivities each year end on the last Sunday of Carnival with the burning at the stake of the King of Carnival and a big parade of floats and costumed groups.