Clean Monday is a special holiday in Greece. It marks the day when we begin the 40-day period of lent. The lent period ends on Easter Sunday. Clean Monday is also the day where we put all the carnival festivities behind. It is a day to feast on seafood and take a break from meat. It is called clean Monday because we start to purify the body by not eating/doing certain things.
What do we eat?
On a special day like Clean Monday, we eat the best. Basically all seafood. Everyone will try to get it fresh from the market that morning, but only the lucky will be able to. The meal can include, mussels, calamari, octopus, shrimp, and fish.
We have a traditional dip called taramosalata, which is a salted and cured roe usually from cod. It is mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, and bread crumbs. It is a perfect match with the “lagana” bread. A flatbread that dates back to the Old Testament.
Another delicious food that we eat today is called “dolmades”. This delicious healthy food is rice wrapped with grape-leafs.
Do you have room for dessert?
The Greeks do!
For dessert, we have a special one which I actually am not a fan of. It is called halvas.
It is made from tahini. Which I also don’t like (probably why I don’t like the dessert). It is made in a square shape with nuts, sugar and sesame paste.
Be Aware: We have a dip called “Skordalia” which means Garlic dip. Just by the name you should now understand the warning. However, after eating this, YES you will want to sleep for a couple of hours because garlic lowers your blood pressure and YES you will have terrible breath.
The flying of the KITES
Another big tradition we have here in Greece on Clean Monday is to fly kites. Originally, Clean Monday is supposed to mark the beginning of spring. The weather starts to get nicer, the days longer, and the garden fuller. Things start to look up from the long cold winter. Even though, not as close as many other places.
Some people will make their own kites, however, nowadays, more and more people choose to buy them instead.
If the weather is good and it is possible the feast is normally outside. A picnic on what is considered the first day of spring a great way to celebrate while flying kites in the wind.