Clean Monday, also known as Kathara Deftera (Greek: Καθαρά Δευτέρα), is a significant religious and cultural holiday celebrated by the Greek Orthodox Church in Greece. It is a public holiday that occurs on the first day of Great Lent, which is 40 days before Easter Sunday.
The name Clean Monday is derived from the Greek word katharos, which means clean or pure. This day marks the beginning of the Lenten period, a time of fasting, repentance, and spiritual reflection in preparation for the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday.
Clean Monday is a day of traditions and customs that have been passed down through generations. The most significant tradition of the day is the kite flying. Greek families go to the parks, hills, or open spaces to fly kites. Kite flying symbolizes the beginning of the Lenten period and the lifting of one’s spirits to heaven. The kites are typically homemade, made of brightly colored paper or cloth and shaped like birds, animals, or mythical creatures.
Another important tradition of Clean Monday is the consumption of Lenten foods. Greek people abstain from meat, fish, and dairy products during the 40-day Lenten period. Therefore, traditional Clean Monday dishes are vegetarian and include lagana, a type of flatbread, taramosalata, a dip made from fish roe, and various other vegetable dishes. These dishes are enjoyed with friends and family in a festive atmosphere.
Apart from kite flying and Lenten foods, other activities take place during Clean Monday. In some areas of Greece, traditional dances are performed, and music is played in the streets. People dress in colorful costumes and participate in group dances, celebrating the beginning of spring and the end of winter.
Clean Monday is an essential holiday in Greece, combining religious and cultural traditions. The holiday reminds Greeks of the importance of spiritual renewal and the need to reflect on one’s life. The day’s customs and traditions bring people together, strengthening family and community bonds. This is a day of celebration, hope, and renewal. Its customs and traditions provide an opportunity for Greeks to reconnect with their roots and heritage, and to take part in a festive celebration that marks the beginning of a significant period of the year.