When is Green Monday?
When is Clean Monday?
Also known as Orthodox Shrove Monday or Ash Monday. In Cyprus, the holiday may be called 'Green Monday'.
Clean Monday begins the season of Great Lent in Eastern Orthodox Churches.
Traditions of Clean Monday
Great Lent corresponds to Lent as found in Western Christianity, though the length of the periods are calculated in different ways. They both use a period of 40 days between the beginning and end of Lent, because of the 40 days that Jesus is said to have spent fasting the desert. However, Western Christendom doesn't count Sundays because Jesus is recorded as having resurrected on a Sunday, whereas Eastern Orthodox churches do count Sundays.
This first day of Great Lent is called "Clean Monday" because Christians should begin the holy season with "clean hearts and good intentions." It is also because the season of Lent is regarded as a time for when Christians should clean up their spiritual house, coming to terms with their lives and rededicating themselves to a more holy and righteous way of living.
Clean Monday is a day of strict fasting. Christians are not allowed to eat from midnight to noon and can have no meat at all. Christians are also expected to spend extra time praying during the day and reading from the Bible.
Because Clean Monday is also considered to mark the first day of spring, Greeks tend to celebrate it with outdoor activities and picnics rather than fasting and prayer. These activities are often called 'koulouma'.
Traditional foods include olives, octopus, and shrimp. A special kind of unleavened bread called "lagana" is baked only on Clean Monday. The history of lagana dates back to the Old Testament and alludes to the help offered by God to the Israeli people while guiding them from Egypt to the promised land.
Greek children also create Kyra Sarakosti, known as Lady Lent. Without a mouth, ears and with seven legs, she is either created out of dough or in cardboard cut-outs. Children cut off one of her legs per week until Easter.
Did you know?
According to some, kite flying was brought to Greece from the east - kites were flown in ancient China at as far back as 1,000 BC. However, others state that it goes back to the experiments of the Greek mathematician and engineers Archytas in about 400 BC.