Rethymnon Carnival: Unveiling the Enchanting Greek Festivities

When it comes to carnival, popular wisdom is unsurpassable. And the people in the know will tell you in no uncertain terms that Latinos know how to party best. It’s a fact. What with carnival being an Italian creation, one would expect the same kind of commitment from Venetian influenced cities. Like Rethymnon. And one would not be wrong. For after Rio and Venice, the biggest most flamboyant carnivals are found in Greece. And while Patras Carnival gets the lion’s share of the attention, Rethymnon carnival is no slouch. In fact, one can make the argument (and possibly even win it) that Crete’s Rethymnon is a far more suitable location for an al fresco party.

Rethymnon Carnival: History

With its California-like weather and Venetian influences, Rethymnon is just about as close to the real thing as it gets. It’s worth pointing out that carnival has been celebrated in Greece well before the advent of ‘carnavale’ in its present form. The Dionisiaka or Dionysian festivals to honour the God of wine and merriment Dionysus have been around since paganism was still a thing in Greece. The carnival in Rethymnon is more than a hundred years old having begun 1914, so that’s something to know.

Rethymnon Carnival: The event

One of the most amusing facts of the carnival is the town crier going round announcing the beginning of carnival. The crier will reel off all the activities and party spots, kid’s events and so on until it’s time to get down and boogie. We’re talking one month long festivities prior to the actual carnival event. The event itself sees upwards of 25 teams participating with different themed floats and costumes, many of which are leftfield, with President Trump a very popular (and we mean that in the loosest terms possible) figure amongst the costumed party goers.

According to tradition the first of the floats then ritually gets lit like a Christmas tree and that signifies the end of the year with which the new-year can be ushered in. In true carnival tradition, the carnival king effigy gets the same treatment in a symbolic gesture that signals the end of carnival.

Rethymnon Carnival: Unveiling the Enchanting Greek Festivities

Cretans know how to have a good time. That’s been proven over and over. They are a whole different breed. Fierce and loyal, fun loving and independent, Crete shows us how things are done. We salute the Carnival Kings of Greece.

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