March 7th 2024 is Tsiknopempti and across Cyprus the air will be thick with the smell of charcoal and grilled meat.

Tsiknopempti is celebrated every year in Cyprus and Greece as part of the carnival traditions. It is the Thursday before the last weekend that Greek Orthodox Christians are allowed to eat meat before Lent; the 40 day fasting period before Easter, when the consumption of all meat and animal based products, like cheese, butter, milk and eggs, are strictly prohibited

Tsiknopempti is celebrated with the consumption of large amounts of grilled and roasted meats often eaten in large social gatherings.

The literal translation of Tsiknopempti is Smelly Thursday from the Greek words Πέμπτη (Pémpti) meaning Thursday and Τσίκνα (Tsikna) meaning the smell of burning/cooked meat.

Tsiknopempti is more commonly called Smoky Thursday and sometimes Grill Thursday or Barbecue Thursday due to the amount of smoke created grilling the large amounts of meat. Rumour has it the smoke generated across Cyprus and Greece on Tsiknopempti can be seen from space.

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