"Clean Monday" with Dancing Kites / Video

"Kathara Deftera" / "Clean Monday", the first day of Lent 

 Every year, seven weeks before Easter and right after the Carnival Parade, Cretans, like all Greeks, celebrate "Kathara Deftera" (Clean Monday, also known as Pure Monday, Green Monday, or Ash Monday). This is a day of great spiritual significance and an important tradition that marks the beginning of Great Lent. Kathara Deftera is among the Greek national holidays, and as with the other religious festivals that precede the Christian Orthodox Easter, the date is variable and usually falls in late February or March.

 It marks the end of the three-week carnival celebrations (Apokries), marked by excesses of pleasure and food, and calls on Christians to refrain from "sinful" habits. It is the beginning of the 48-day period of Lent, the longest and strictest in terms of food, known among Greeks as "Sarakosti" and ending on Resurrection Sunday.

 This Lenten period commemorates the sufferings of Christ on the Cross. Therefore, no weddings or baptisms are held during this time, and parties are considered inappropriate. Lent is also associated with a time of purification of the mind and body. Believers abstain from certain foods such as meat, eggs, fish and dairy products. They also adopt a spiritual attitude to purify their souls through prayers and good deeds.

During the Sarakosti period, Greeks tend to eat mainly vegetarian dishes and shellfish. There is a common custom on Kathara Deftera, which involves the consumption of unleavened bread known as "lagana", and it is baked only on this particular day. The bread is usually served with seafood, legumes, olives, salads, pickles, dolmades (traditional stuffed cabbage/vine leaf rolls), fat-free fried chickpea meatballs or a bean soup called "Gigantes". For dessert, a popular choice is halva, an irresistible sweet made from a combination of sesame seeds, tahini, and honey.  food

On Kathara Deftera, which is also known as Clean Monday, local municipalities organize special events in all towns and villages where people of all ages can enjoy traditional folk music, dance, and delicious vegetarian food. This day is all about being with family, friends, and relatives, so if the weather is nice, most Greeks spend it outside, going on nature trips or picnics.

Spring is commonly considered to start with Kathara Deftera, which also signifies the soul's aspiration to connect with the Divine. This joyful occasion is marked by the raising of kites, which fill the sky and landscapes with a vibrant palette of colors. Children and parents alike participate in friendly competitions to keep their kites flying longer and higher, creating a mesmerizing spectacle in the wind for all to enjoy. 

 While keeping alive the Greek cultural and religious traditions inherited from generations past with its cheerful spirit and appetizing culinary specialties, Kathara Deftera offers the perfect reason for a nature getaway with family and friends.

 The kites from Heraklion are featured in this artistic video!

 Kali Sarakosti! / Have a blessed Lent!

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