Clean Monday (in Greek known as Kathara deftera), also known as Green Monday, is the first day of lent for the Greek Orthdox – a period which lasts 40 days till Easter. Green Monday is a public holiday in Cyprus and is celebrated outdoors usually in the fields, parks, on beaches or in holiday villas with the whole family.
Vegetables, fruit and a special type of sesame bread “lagana” are eaten along with tahini, taramosalata, olives, hummus, lettuce, tomatoes, artichokes, peppers, beetroots, coriander, cucumbers and, of course, a glass or two of local wine or beer for the adults. Octopus and shellfish may also be eaten. Desert could be semolina pudding which is made in many different ways with honey, nuts, raisins, cinnamon and cloves ( it can either be boiled or cooked in the oven), or daktila which are syrupy, slightly crunchy, finger shaped cookies. Meat, dairy and eggs are traditionally not eaten on Green Monday nor are they eaten for 40 days of lent. Not everyone follows the Lenten fast but most bakeries, restaurants and fast food takeaways do cater to those who are observant.
Lunch In The Nature
Some of the people spend all day in nature eating food, playing games like ‘milo’, flying the kites, socializing with others and relaxing. Usually the village mayors or city mayors organize some events like dancing and singing traditional songs or playing traditional games and free food for people.
Green Monday, however, is not only associated with eating fasting products, but features also many traditions being held all over Cyprus. Traditionally, as Clean Monday is considered to mark the beginning of the spring season, kite flying is also part of the tradition. Young people and adults organize excursions to open areas, so as to fill the skies with their kites. Many traditional workshops are involved in making kites for over 70 years now. Although the wooden kites have been replaced by plastic ones, the kite-making handcraft still has its own secrets. A light wooden frame on a paper body, cords on the balances and a single cord on the tail make up for the perfect kite, ready to carry children and grown-ups off their feet.
The feast of Clean Monday and all associated traditions and celebrations are in the hearts of the Greek-Cypriot people, as they provide an opportunity for leisure and escaping from the daily routine, while coming in contact with nature and the country’s cultural heritage .