Traditions and customs of Clean Monday: Celebrating the start of spring
Clean Monday is known for its spiritual significance and cultural traditions. From the flying of kites to the eating of seafood and vegan dishes, this article covers all the festivities that make this day so special. And, if you're lucky, you may just catch a glimpse of some Cypriots dancing and celebrating in the streets! Get ready to join the festivities and learn all about the unique customs of Clean Monday.
Clean Monday, or “Kathara Deftera”, is a significant day in Greek Orthodox culture that marks the beginning of the Lenten season. This holiday typically falls on the first Monday of Lent and is a day of reflection, repentance, and renewal.
History and Origins
Clean Monday has its roots in ancient rituals that celebrated the arrival of spring. These rituals included the flying of kites, a symbol of new life, as well as the cleansing of homes and bodies to prepare for the new season.
In the Greek Orthodox Church, Clean Monday is a public holiday, and the day is marked by a series of religious observances, including the Great Compline service the night before, which is a time for confession and repentance.
Customs and Traditions
Clean Monday is known for its festive customs and traditions. One of the most popular traditions is the flying of kites, which symbolizes new life. Families and friends gather in open spaces, such as parks or beaches, to fly kites, often in bright colors and unique designs.
Another hallmark of Clean Monday is the consumption of special foods, which typically include seafood and vegan dishes. These dishes are prepared in advance and eaten in a picnic-style setting. The tradition of eating seafood on Clean Monday is said to have originated from the practice of avoiding meat during Lent. The seafood feast is a way to indulge before the start of the 40-day fast.
In addition to kites and food, Clean Monday also involves a ritualistic cleansing of homes and bodies. Many Cypriots take the day off work to clean their homes from top to bottom, including washing bedding, curtains, and even walls. The day also marks the start of a detox period, during which people abstain from meat and dairy products and focus on eating simple, healthy meals.
Finally, Clean Monday is a day of forgiveness and reconciliation. Cypriots as well as Greeks often seek out friends and family members to ask for forgiveness and make amends for any wrongdoings.
Celebrating Clean Monday with a table set for tradition.
Celebrating Clean Monday
Clean Monday is a holiday that is celebrated throughout Cyprus and Greece and in Greek-speaking communities around the world. All over Cyprus picnic spaces, as well as streets, are filled with people flying kites and enjoying traditional foods.
If you are in Cyprus during Clean Monday, be sure to participate in the festivities! Head to a park or beach with your own kite or join in on the communal flying. Indulge in some of the delicious seafood and vegetarian dishes, and take some time to reflect on the significance of the day.
Clean Monday is a vibrant and meaningful holiday that celebrates the arrival of spring, the start of Lent, and the power of forgiveness and renewal. From the flying of kites to the feast of delicious food, there are many unique customs and traditions associated with this special day.
Get your kite, put on your stretchy pants, and get ready for a day of fun and repentance - it's Clean Monday, and it's time to celebrate!
This year, Clean Monday falls on February 27.