How did Paros host one of the oldest carnivals in Greece, and what are some of the traditions and customs that take place during this celebration?

Paros is a beautiful island in the Cyclades, famous for its white marble, picturesque villages and stunning beaches. But Paros is also a place with a rich cultural heritage and a long history of celebrating carnival, or Apokries, as it is called in Greek. In this blog post, we will explore how Paros hosted one of the oldest carnivals in Greece, and what are some of the traditions and customs that take place during this festive season.

The origins of carnival in Paros

The word carnival comes from the Latin carnem levare, which means to remove meat. This refers to the fact that carnival is the last period of feasting and merrymaking before the start of Lent, a time of fasting and abstinence for Christians. Carnival is also linked to ancient pagan festivals that celebrated the end of winter and the rebirth of nature, such as the Roman Saturnalia or the Greek Dionysia.

Paros has a long tradition of celebrating carnival, dating back to ancient times. According to some sources, Paros was the birthplace of Archilochus, a 7th century BC poet who wrote some of the earliest satirical verses in Greek literature. Archilochus was known for his mockery of social norms and political figures, and his poems were often recited during carnival festivities. Some scholars believe that Archilochus was also the inventor of the Ageranos, a circular dance that was performed by masked men during carnival. The Ageranos was a ritual dance that symbolized the unity and equality of the participants, who formed a chain by holding each other’s shoulders. The dance was accompanied by bagpipes, lutes and violins, and it was often followed by humorous songs and jokes.

The modern carnival in Paros

Today, Paros continues to celebrate carnival with enthusiasm and creativity. The carnival season lasts for two weeks, starting from Meatfare Sunday (the Sunday before Lent) and ending on Clean Monday (the first day of Lent). During this time, various events and activities take place all over the island, such as costume parties, theatrical performances, musical concerts, parades and competitions. Some of the highlights of the carnival in Paros are:

  • The revival of the Ageranos dance in Naoussa. Naoussa is a picturesque fishing village on the north coast of Paros, and it is one of the most lively places during carnival. Every year, on the last Sunday of carnival, hundreds of people gather in the main square to dance the Ageranos, wearing traditional costumes and masks. The dance is led by a man dressed as a bridegroom, who holds a flag with the emblem of Naoussa. The dancers form a large circle around him, moving clockwise and counter-clockwise to the rhythm of the music. The dance is followed by a parade of floats and groups of people dressed in various themes.
  • The festivals of Paros. Paros has many churches and monasteries that celebrate their patron saints during carnival. Some of these festivals include:

    • The festival of Agios Athanasios the Parian in Kostos on June 24th. Kostos is a small village on a hill overlooking the sea, and it hosts a feast in honor of Agios Athanasios, a 4th century saint who was born in Paros and became a bishop in Alexandria. The feast includes traditional food, wine, music and dancing.
    • The festival of Agia Marina in Kostos on July 16th and 17th. Agia Marina is another patron saint of Kostos, and her festival coincides with the revival of the bagpipes in Naoussa. The bagpipes are an ancient instrument that was used to accompany the Ageranos dance, but they were banned by the Ottoman Turks who occupied Greece for centuries. In 1927, a group of young men from Naoussa decided to revive the bagpipes and play them secretly during carnival. Since then, every year on July 17th, they gather in Kostos to play their bagpipes and honor Agia Marina.
    • The festival of Sotiros in Aliki and Marpissa on August 6th. Sotiros means Savior, and it is one of the names of Jesus Christ. On this day, two villages on opposite sides of Paros celebrate with fireworks, music and dancing. In Aliki, a seaside village on the south coast, the boats in the harbor are illuminated and fireworks light up the night sky. In Marpissa, a mountain village on the east coast, the locals dress up as pirates and raid the neighboring villages, pretending to kidnap their women and children.
  • The Clean Monday celebrations. Clean Monday marks the beginning of Lent, and it is a day of joy and purification. On this day, people fly kites, eat seafood and vegetarian dishes, and participate in various games and rituals. In Aliki, there is a tradition of making Kyra Sarakosti (Lady of Lent), a cloth doll with seven feet, one for each week of fasting. The children cut off one foot every week, until Easter arrives. In Parikia, the capital of Paros, there is a custom of burning an effigy of Judas, the betrayer of Christ, on a bonfire.

The benefits of carnival in Paros

Carnival in Paros is not only a fun and colorful event, but also a valuable cultural expression that preserves and promotes the identity and heritage of the island. By celebrating carnival, the people of Paros:

  • Connect with their ancient roots and honor their ancestors.
  • Express their creativity and humor through costumes, masks, songs and jokes.
  • Strengthen their social bonds and solidarity through communal dances, festivals and games.
  • Enjoy the natural beauty and diversity of their island through outdoor activities and parades.
  • Prepare themselves spiritually and physically for the Lenten season and Easter.


Carnival in Paros is one of the oldest and most authentic carnivals in Greece, and it offers a unique experience for visitors and locals alike. It is a time to celebrate life, nature, culture and faith, with joy and respect. If you want to witness this amazing spectacle, plan your trip to Paros during carnival season, and join the festivities. You will not regret it!

This blog post was generated by Bing using web search results. The sources used are:

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Carnival | Definition, Festival, Traditions, Countries, & Facts | Britannica. (n.d.). Retrieved from
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Carnival in Naoussa, The Unique Tradition With Ancient Greek Roots. (2022). Retrieved from