Anniversaries & National Days, Arts & Culture

The Athenian Joy of Clean Monday

Clean Monday, also known as “Kathara Deftera” in Greek, is a significant holiday in Greece that marks the beginning of Lent, the forty days of fasting and reflection leading up to Easter. 

Clean Monday is a moveable feast that falls on the first Monday of Lent, which typically falls between late February and mid-March. On that day, most of the people are out of work and visit parks or travel to their villages to enjoy some seafood while throwing a kite. 

Only a fasting menu is available for people to cook and eat, which you can find everywhere in the suburbs or the central city speaking of the taverns and the bakeries that offer all you want to try fresh and easy.

What to eat 

Clean Monday is a day of purification, both of the body and the soul. Traditionally, people in Greece fast and abstain from meat and dairy products on this day, instead consuming a variety of Lenten foods, such as lagana (a type of bread), taramosalata (a dip made from fish roe), olives, and vegetables. These foods are meant to symbolize simplicity and purity, reflecting the spirit of the Lenten season.

In addition to the special foods, Clean Monday is also celebrated with a variety of outdoor activities. One of the most popular traditions is kite-flying, which is enjoyed by people of all ages. Families and friends gather in parks and other open spaces to fly brightly colored kites and enjoy the spring weather.

What to do

Another popular activity on Clean Monday is the game of “flour war” or “alevromoutzouromata” in Greek. Participants throw handfuls of colored flour at each other, creating a festive and playful atmosphere. This tradition has its roots in the ancient pagan celebrations of the arrival of spring but has been adapted to fit the Christian holiday of Clean Monday.

Overall, Clean Monday is a time of renewal and reflection in Greece. The holiday offers a chance to leave behind the excesses of the Carnival season and begin the spiritual journey of Lent. Whether through fasting, kite-flying, or flour-throwing, Greeks come together to celebrate the beauty of spring and the joy of new beginnings. 

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