Clean Monday, or Kathara Deftera in Greek (the catholic equivalent is Ash Wednesday) marks the end of the carnival season (Apokries) and the beginning of the preparation period for Orthodox Easter. Therefore, Clean Monday is by default a day of fasting, and cleansing of the body and the soul. We could say it is a sort of detox day, right after the meat feast of the carnival celebrations.
Clean Monday is the first day of the Great Lent leading to Easter, and therefore special culinary habits apply. First of all, Greeks eat a special unleavened bread, baked only on Clean Monday, called ‘lagana’, and it is crisp and delicious. On Clean Monday, all bakeries bake only laganas, while some people like to test their baking skills, preparing their own hand-baked laganas at home. The Clean Monday menu is essentially a sort of vegetarian menu based on vegetables and seafood. The table is full of elaborate dishes with oysters, clams, octopuses, squids, cuttlefish, and shrimps. There are also dishes with legumes, pickled vegetables, tarama (a fish eggs paste), and halvah. Halvah is made either from tahini (sesame seed paste), or it is cooked as a type of semolina pudding. Nowadays there are many variations, i.e. halvah with chocolate.
There are many different customs associated with Clean Monday all over Greece. Perhaps the most well-known and anticipated one is the flying of kites. The root of the custom is very old and comes most probably from ancient China, where cathartic and protective properties were attributed to kites. The kite is perceived as a symbol for the soul, and the kite flying process resembles its cleansing and elevation to heaven. Some Greeks like to build their own kite, as a family bonding activity, but usually, people buy it from street sellers. It is one of the most joyful and impressive customs, since the skies fill with beautiful shapes and various colors, while in some areas there are kite-flying competitions. It is an outdoor activity loved by all, children and adults.
This year, however, due to the on-going lockdown in force, there will be many restrictions nationwide. People may fly a kite only around their block because they are not allowed to move far from home. Clean Monday will be very different this year, but even if we cannot fly a kite, we can elevate our souls to the sky and make a wish: May it be the last Clean Monday we celebrate indoors, and may the pandemic soon be reduced to a bad dream for all humanity.
Fantastic Experience We booked tours with a couple of tour companies but Skip the Line Acropolis of Athens and New Acropolis Museum Tour with Athen Walking Tours was our favorite.
Vicki B | May 22 | Acropolis & Museum Tour
Great pace and level of details WITHOUT going to deep yet, she answered every question wth great knowledge and passion!!
GrandTour398142 | May 22 | Private Acropolis Tour
An excellent 3 hour guided tour with an extremely knowledgeable archaeologist guide. Just the tight amount of time to tour the Acropolis site and the highlights of the outstanding Parthenon Museum.
Jan A | July 22 | Acropolis & Acropolis Museum
Food is the soul of a nation - the perfect Athens experience!
CMS | July 22 | Athens Cooking Lesson
Excellent walking tour of the Acropolis. Our guide Angela was informative, kind and friendly. The pace was perfect, and good to avoid the queues!
Prakash | July 22 | Acropolis Tour
Amazing experience! Ah, and yummy!Wow! How do I start? Well, this was an amazing experience to star our visit to Athens, it was like cooking the Thanksgiving dinner with your family, thanks to the instructor Sophia....
LisetteDeAbreu | July 22 | Athens Cooking Lesson
Great day outIt was a fascinating and fun tour of the Acropolis with our excellent guide & insider Charoula;
Jasper | June 22 | Acropolis & Food Tastings
Great tour to start visit Athens We started our stay and visit to Athens by going on this guided tour, and it was a very good decision!
Beatriz C | June 22 | Acropolis Tour
A must do! A fabulous opportunity to explore and taste the Greek cuisine off the beaten path.
Stephanie C | June 22 | Athens Food Tour
Fantastic Foodie Tour We learnt so much about Greek food and customs and visited locations we would never have found on our own.
Kathy C | June 22 | Athens Food Tour
4 hours Of History and joy Tour guide Fotini really made the day, enjoyed every minute of the tour.
Amy E | June 22 | Acropolis with Food Tasting
Inspiring and unforgettable ... It's 40 years since I was last there, I now have a much greater appreciation of the history of this architectural marvel.
Padraic Timlin | June 22 | Acropolis Tour
Outstanding tour! The length of this tour was just right with the perfect amount of walking and interesting sites.
KateFlorida1 | May 22 | Acropolis & City Tour
An immersive, emotional and fun experience into the heart of Athens and its people This was exactly the type of tour I was craving for and there couldn't have been a better match than Sofia to host such tour.
Niccolò | May 22 | Athens Street Culture
Great tour with Annie We had a small group and she took the time to explain all the meaningful sites in the Agora.
Dakota | May 22 | Ancient Agora