Greece is a country full of cultural and religious traditions – and one celebration which is a bit of both is Clean Monday or “Kathari Deftera”. This is the Monday that falls 40 days before Easter.
Clean Monday involves eating a feast which commences the 40-day period of Lent, or “Sarakosti” for the Eastern Orthodox church.
The celebrations for Clean Monday always coincide with the first day of the 7th week before Orthodox Easter Sunday. The preceding Sunday is the last of 3 Sundays where the carnival has taken part and people start end by attending a special evening service, asking for forgiveness to start off the Lent period with a clear conscious and clean soul.
Food is also an important part of the Clean Monday celebration as most Greeks participate in the traditional Orthodox Lent which forbids the consumption of meat, fish, eggs and dairy products. Most households celebrate the beginning of Lent with a spread of shellfish, octopus and taramasalata [which is a traditional dip made from salted roe, breadcrumbs, lemon and oil] – which goes great with the special “laguna” bread that is also consumed on Clean Monday. Also the traditional dessert made from tahini called “halva” is served – the first time I tried this I was not a fan – it is so sugary and I have a very sweet tooth, it has grown on me now though!!