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After Burning Meat Thursday, Cheese Week

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Hoping that today isn’t Tsiknopempti
photograph courtesy of Peter and May Kireopoulos

From today until Easter, meat is forbidden from the diet of practicing Orthodox Christians. This is good news for vegetarians in Greece, who will enjoy 40 days without being asked how they will survive without meat—the assumption being that they are not consuming it because they are faithful Christians.

For the faithful, the 40 meatless days are preceded by a day of carnivorous gluttony. On Tsiknopempti (last Thursday) many Greeks grilled up several pounds of meat at home or flocked to restaurants to eat mass quantities of it prepared especially for that day. “Tsikna” is Greek for the smell of burning meat, while “Pempti” is Greek for Thursday. No matter one’s culinary habits, it’s impossible to avoid smelling like a barbecue on Tsiknopempti.

This week, however, is traditionally known as “white week” or “cheese week,” as many people replace their usual consumption of meat with eggs and cheese.

And if you are a woman, the story goes: you ought not wash your hair at all this week, or it will turn white. Let us know if it does.

About the author

In order to keep a promise she and her brother had made to their grandmother (and to simultaneously fulfill one of her own dreams) Kaymaria left her beloved hometown of Oakland, California and headed to Athens in time for the 2004 Olympics. Today, she continues to work and play in the Greek capital, where you may find her writing atop Lykavittos, road-tripping with overseas guests, enjoying Athens cafés with friends, dancing to Greek hip-hop music, or reading Greek subtitles in an outdoor cinema. The daughter of two life-long educators and enthusiastic travelers, Kaymaria has explored North America, Mexico, and Europe. It was not until she spent a year as an exchange student at The University of York in England, however, that she discovered that she does not actually speak English.

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