Kathara Deftera (Clean Monday)

Clean Monday

Clean Monday is an important day for Greeks. We celebrate the end of the Carnival and the beginning of fasting which leads to Easter (forty days later). The name comes from the adjective “katharos”=clean. This day is also called “Koulouma”.

As the name indicates, people “clean’ their body and soul. Having spent 3 weeks consuming a lot of meat during carnival and tsiknopempti, now they stop eating meat, dairy products (cheese, yogurt, milk), fish and eggs.

Nevertheless, the table of the day offers a great variety of dishes. Some of the most typical dishes are: “lagana” (a type of bread only prepared for that day), halva, seafood (shrimps, squids etc), fish roe salad (“taramosalata”), vegetables etc. This is supposed to be the menu until Easter. Even if not all Greeks fasten the 40 days to Easter, Kathara Deftera is a fasting day for everyone.

Kathara Deftera is also a national holiday. It is an opportunity for a family lunch or if the weather is good, it is a wonderful day for a trip to the countryside. There are several traditions related to this day. Each area has different customs. The flying of the kite is the most common tradition that you can find all over Greece. People of every age try to fly a kite. The highest kite is the winner! Athenians for example go to the hill of Filopappou, opposite the Acropolis. It is the best place to fly the kite.

Many cities and towns organize feasts offering local food to visitors, they also offer wine and of course music. The municipality of Athens treats wine and food and the band plays music to entertain the people who join the party!

If you happen to be in Greece that day, don’t forget to wish: “Xronia polla” and “Kali Sarakosti” (enjoy the 40 fasting days until Easter)

In the following video you will see teacher Konstantinos and 3 other Omilo members picnicking on the background. Konstantinos explains in Greek more about the “sarrakosti” traditions.

Can you answer the questions he asks at the end of the video?
1. Which day is it today?
2. How you call the object I am holding here?

Answers:
1. Καθαρά Δευτέρα (Kathara Devtera) – Clean Monday
2. Ο χαρταετός (chartaetos) – the kite