Members Only The Annual Phallus Festival in Greece

Each year on the first Monday of Lent, the people of the tiny Greek town of Tyrnavos go crazy about penises, singing lewd songs and urging passersby to kiss their model phallusses. The pagan fertility festival is one of the most famous parties in Greece.

If you want to eat phallus-shaped bread, drink through phallus-shaped straws from phallus-shaped cups, kiss ceramic phalluses, sit on a phallus-shaped throne and sing dirty Greek songs about the phallus, then you should visit the little Greek town of Tyrnavos each year on "Clean Monday."

The one-day pagan fertility festival in this town of 15,000 people near the central Greek city of Larissa marks the beginning of Lent, the fasting period before Easter, and is one of the most famous carnivals in Greece.

Come prepared. Passersby tend to be grabbed and rocked over a pot of boiling "bourani" spinach soup while a ceramic penis is placed between their legs. They must kiss the phallus, then drink tsipouro -- a strong local spirit -- from its tip, and then stir the soup before they're let go.

Phallus-kissers are rewarded with ash-streaks on their face, which presumably absolves them from having to go through the procedure again, unless of course they would like to.

The festival is in honor of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, madness and ecstasy. While the men, women and children of Tyrnavos celebrate the penis, the rest of Greece marks the beginning of the pre-Easter fast more modestly by flying kites and eating octopus, olives and unleavened bread.

If you want to come prepared, find some ceramic phalluses and dangle them from your waist. But make sure you come on the right day because this town is perfectly normal the other 364 days of the year.

The raunchy, lewd songs that echo round its streets on "Clean Monday" aren't sung at any other time either.

Phallic worship was popular in ancient Rome, Egypt, India and Japan.

Until the 1940s, the penis party was reserved for the town's men folk. Over the years women gradually joined it and even children enjoy it these days, along with many tourists. But the local church isn't especially keen on it.


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