Today, Thursday 20 February, marks a special day on the Greek Orthodox Calendar: Tsiknopempti (Τσικνοπέμπτι) – especially for meat-lovers.

It signals the start of the last weekend that the faithful are permitted to eat meat before the beginning of the Lenten fast, exactly 11 days before Clean Monday, which falls on 2 March.

As the day also coincides with the Greek Carnival (Apokries) celebrations, taking place in the second week that is referred to as Kreatini (the meat-eating week), over the years the tradition has continued to be observed even both those who do not consider themselves to be religious.

MORE: It’s carnival time in Greece – let the capers begin

The word tsikno is derived from the Greek work τσίκνα, which refers to the smell of charred food, or in this case meat.

On this day in Greece and Cyprus, people prepare their favourite meat dishes at home, or eat out, and have a feast heavy on grilled meats, the air filled with the smell of smokey meats. Many eateries will have a special Tsiknopempti menu, with one of the most popular dishes being souvlaki skewers.

It is a running joke that Greeks try and consume enough meat on Tsiknopempti to last them through the entire 40 days of Lent.

Will you be celebrating tsiknopempti or taking part in the carnival spirit? We’d love to see your photos from festivities. Send these to