Clean Monday, the day that brings the carnival season to a close was full of celebrations all across Greece, turning the country into one giant party.
Aside from traditional carnival parades with floats and thousands of dancers in Patras, Xanthi, Rethymno and other big cities, in some towns the Clean Monday celebrations were extreme, as dictated by old customs, with some having their roots in ancient Greece.
In Tyrnavos, the famous – or infamous – “Burani” custom was revived once more as it has been for at least a century now.
It is a bold and lewd custom, one of the highlights of carnival celebrations every year.
The “Burani” custom has revelers dancing around a cauldron of spinach soup while men holding giant fake penises beat the women with them. The actual custom dictates that the penis is filled with booze and men and women have to kiss the tip of it and then drink. The booze is tsipouro, a spirit that Tyrnavos is famous for.
The custom has to do with fertility and the coming of Spring. Its roots most likely lie in ancient Dionysian celebrations. The Greek Orthodox Church disapproves of the custom, but this does not stop thousands of locals and visitors from reveling wildly.
(Watch video below)
In Galaxidi on Clean Monday, the traditional annual flour war had hundreds of revellers hurling colored flour at each other and in the air.
As with every year, the “alevromoutzourades”, masked and dressed in overalls or old clothes and carrying sacks of colored flour, started from the National Road Bridge in cars and on foot.
Crossing the picturesque alleyways of Galaxidi, they reached the port where an epic battle took place.
The origin of the custom is not known, but it was first recorded in 1801 by Irish traveler and writer Edward Dodwell. In his travelogue, Dodwell had written that despite the fact that Greeks were subject to harsh Ottoman rule, their preparations for the flour war were diligent and painstaking.
(Watch video below)