Clean Monday

Clean Monday (Kathara Deftera) is celebrated by the Greek Orthodox Christians at the beginning of the 48-day lenten season (the fasting period) before Easter Sunday. It is a movable feast, often associated with the start of spring and symbolizes a long period of purification of the body and the spirit.

On Clean Monday Greeks take the day off work/school and enjoy being outside with family and friends. Some people prefer to eat out at a seaside taverna, but most of them cook the day’s specialties at home. According to the fasting rules, special delicious vegan meals are prepared. The typical Clean Monday menu contains lagana, a special flat, oval shaped bread, taramosalata dip, seafood like grilled octopus, squid, shrimps and mussels, fasolada, a rich bean soup, dolmades, olives and the sweet dish halvas.

Greeks tend to celebrate this day with outdoor activities and picnics. Throughout Greece, festivals are celebrating with music, food, dance and weather permitting with a round of kite-flying (hartaetos).

Young and old, families and friends go to the countryside or the beaches and try to fly a colorful kite. In the past, the kites used to be handmade by the father or grandfather of the family. Therefore, the art of kite making was passed on from one generation to the other. Today most people buy a kite instead of making it.

By sending a kite up, Greeks try to communicate with God. And the higher the kite goes, the closer the person comes to God. The kite carries the human spirit and brings it closer to the Creator, and Christians believe that their soul should be next to God’s.


Photos by Sofia Doulaveri