Halloween is tonight. BOO!
In past years I’ve generally ended my six months in Greece on this day. My reasoning was simple. Returning to New York City on Halloween meant that many of the same characters I’d grown used to seeing on Mykonos would be out in force on the streets of Manhattan.
Besides, I wasn’t missing out on any Greek ghouls or goblins (at least not of the unelected sort), because Halloween is virtually non-existent in Greece, except by expats for their children and some places catering to tourists. That’s not meant to suggest Greeks don’t like to party in costume—the ancients invented it. Modern Greeks do it big time during Apokries, a three-week festival preceding Greek Orthodox Lent (think February), also known as Carnival. I’ve described those festivities of Lent before (It’s Mardi Gras Time in Greece), but today I thought I’d concentrate on the costumes.
As reported a few years back on a website called Hubpages :
Adults dress up and throw parties or frequent the town cafes and bars dressed in masks, wigs and funny, scary or risqué costumes. For example men often dress up as outrageous women with high heels, short skirts, huge inflated false boobs and an overdose of lipstick, blusher and false eyelashes. Others may dress up as priests or wear masks of well known politicians, actors or film characters. They often carry props such as plastic battons, streamers, confetti, tins of foam, whistles and clackers; all adding to the rowdy party atmosphere.
Children - even babies - enjoy the fun too of course... masquerade parties are held in villages and schools for the young ones, who dress up in all manner of costumes from witches and warlocks to telly tubbies and angels.
Masqueraders use their disguises and masks to call anonymously at the houses of friends and neighbours, who try to guess their identities.
Cakes and sweets are offered to the masquerading children on these house calls, or shots of whisky or the local fire water to adults in disguise. This is usually a ploy to entice the masquerader to remove his mask to uncover his identity!
So similarly there is a kind of trick or treating here in Greek Apokries, but ..... they get to do both. The treat is offered - the sweet, cake or whisky, but is then usually followed by the trick - throwing confetti, streamers or foam all around the house (yes I know it's tame, and just in fun, but you try cleaning up tons of the stuff from your carpet!).
At the end of the three-week period Apokries culminates with the Grand Carnival Parades which are held all across Greece. The largest and most famous of which is held in Patras. There are also large parades held in Athens and in Rethymnon, Crete, amongst many others.
Tonight will be NYC’s turn to show how dress up is done big time in the Big Apple with the famed Greenwich Village Halloween Parade.
But I’ll be in Portland Oregon. :( Then again, there’s still a chance I’ll meet up with some bizarre, not from this planet creature. After all EvKa has promised to join up with Tim Hallinan and me at Annie Bloom’s Books for our joint book event this Monday, November 2nd, at 7 PM.
I’m so afraid.