Carnival exist since antiquity and at the beginning was a festival in honour of Bacchus, the God of wine, in order to pray to have a rich harvest.
Later the Venetian domination contributed to change the customs of Corfu and to introduce the masks, the coloration of faces with ash and new characters like the dotori (doctors), the nodari (notary) and the muzeta (musetti).
Today the carnival is truly felt, the floats are prepared months and months before and people dressed in clothing characteristic of past and present of Corfu island.
The Carnival in Kerkyra consist of:
- Rehearsal parade of floats through the city on the first Sunday, the Sunday of the Prodigal Son
- The last Thursday before Lent (Tsichnopempti) is dedicated to gorge oneself with meat before the period of Lent
- The last Thursday of Carnival, in the old city, there is the traditional ritual of "Petegolia" that consists of seeing women appear at the windows buzzing in dialect about all the Corfiot events.
The event is accompanied by music and songs.
- The official parade takes place the last Sunday and is called the parade of "Sir Carnival".
Sir Carnival is the bringer of all ills and misfortunes in the year just past, so at the end of the parade, he is burnt in retribution to launch then dances, songs and amusements.
During the Carnival there are also two local rites:
- The "dance of priests" takes place the last Sunday of Carnival in the main square of Episkepsi, which is a village in the north part of the island and little more south than Acharavi.
This rite would go back to 500 B.C. and it is a dance without music in which the men of the village, in order of age or role in the community, follow the Pope who has opened the dancing.
The verses sung first by the Pope and then gradually by all the men give the dance its rhythm.
At the end the old women join playing and dancing together with the men.
- the carnival wedding is a rite still present today in Klimatia, Chlomo, Marathia, Kritika and Iannades (once it was present in all the villages of the island).
It takes place the last Sunday of Carnival and consists of the celebration of a wedding with both bride and groom men and the dangerous presence of the demon in the form of satyr. The reason of the two men is that in the past the women could not celebrate the festivity.
During all the celebration the inhabitants of the town make fun of themselves and joke using vulgar language.