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Every year, Clean Monday is a significant bank holiday in Greece that transpires 50 days prior to Orthodox Easter. This occasion marks the start of the Great Lent period for Evangelical Christians and symbolizes the completion of Carnival festivities. As it follows Christian calendar patterns, its faithful celebration date changes annually.
Why is it called Clean Monday?
Two theories exist behind the origin of Clean Monday. Based on everyday life, it is said that women were so inundated with washing and cleaning after carnival that they had no time for anything else. Alternatively, Orthodox religion suggests that this day cleanses the body and soul from all meat consumed during Carnival in preparation for Easter. Therefore, Clean Monday serves as a chance to purify both our physical being and spiritual essence before celebrating religious holidays such as Easter.An alternate term for Clean Monday is Koulouma. The word indicates the multitude of people that travel to rural areas to celebrate the holiday, derived from Latin's "columus"; meaning abundance and prosperity.
Clean Monday is a joyous event that usually involves flying kites. When the climate allows, people of all ages - families and friends alike - take to the countryside with their kites in hand. While there, you'll often find lively Greek music and other festivities organized by local governing bodies. It's an incredible occasion not to be missed!For the Christian Orthodox, the kite embodies a human soul that soars freely and purely in order to encounter their Creator. Through this practice, believers can prepare for Jesus Christ's Resurrection and Easter Sunday.
Clean Monday Menu
Marking the start of the 40-day Lenten period until Orthodox Easter, Clean Monday is an esteemed religious celebration with a distinct menu. This traditional feast is comprised of dishes that exclude meat, dairy products and olive oil - join us as we explore these fascinating flavours!
Lagana is a unique bread specially prepared for Clean Monday and made without yeast, giving it its signature flat shape. This special dish has deep roots in Greek history; Legend tells that God sent this unleavened bread to Jewish people as an aid when he instructed them to depart from Egypt. Today, Greeks proudly uphold this tradition by consuming Lagana on Clean Monday each year!
During Lent, traditional Greek cuisine includes Taramas or Taramasalata: a delectable fish roe dip. The savory combination of mashed potatoes, olive oil, lemons, onions and breadcrumbs creates an intriguing flavor that comes in two colors - classic white and pinkish hues for the same recipe! Enjoy this unique appetizer that only requires a few simple ingredients to make it from scratch.
seafood: as meat is not part of the menu, all kinds of seafood play a major role. Grilled octopus, grilled or stuffed squid, oysters, and mussels are just a few of this day’s specials.
Fasolada, a beloved dish among Greeks, is hailed as the National Dish of Greece. This simple yet flavorsome soup contains basic ingredients such as white beans, vegetables, tomato sauce and onions cooked with water. Its comforting taste can be further amplified when accompanied by salted sardines!
Halva, a beloved dessert of the Middle East and Balkans, is most often served during Lenten festivities. This delightful treat comes in two different varieties: one made from semolina pudding with raisins, and another crafted from sesame tahini—which Clean Monday favors due to its oil-free recipe that lacks butter or eggs.