CLEAN MONDAY - "KATHARA THEFTERA"
The whole weekend preceding "Clean Monday" offers vigorous parties, parades, and traditional events due to the Carnival (see related post "Apokries-Carnival").
While a holiday atmosphere still prevails, "Clean Monday" or "Kathari Theftera" marks the start of the Lenten period "Sarakosti" (40-day Lent before Easter). It is called "clean" because it starts a period during which our bodies and spirits are "cleansed" to prepare for accepting the Resurrection at Easter which is the most sacred of all observances in the Greek Orthodox faith.
Clean Monday is a public holiday in Greece and everything is closed. Children make the "Kyra Sarakosti," (Lady Lent), a paper doll with seven legs to represent the seven weeks of Lent. At the end of every week, a leg is cut off to show how many weeks remain until Easter.
All the foods consumed on Clean Monday are all "pure" without the shedding of blood and since it is a time of fasting, it means abstaining from foods that contain animals with red blood (meats, poultry, game) and products from animals with red blood (milk, cheese, eggs, etc.), and fish and seafood with backbones. Olive oil and wine are also restricted.
Modern day Greeks do not abstain from all these food groups, unfortunately the vigorous rhythms of daily life are too demanding for that, even though many do succeed in doing it. Older people are the ones who do solemnly fast. It goes without saying, that children and sick people are excluded.
Foods eaten during Lent are restricted, but that doesn't mean Lenten dishes are boring and bland, on the contrary!
Here's a small sample of Lenten dishes:
|(rice filled grape leaves)|
| Greek-Style Boiled Shrimp|
Boiled shrimp with a delicious oil and lemon sauce
|Taramasalata: Fish Roe Dip|
Tarama (cod or carp roe) is sometimes called "the common man's caviar." Combined with olive oil and bread, it makes one of the tastiest and most famous of all Greek dips.
|Maroulosalata: Cos (Romaine) Lettuce Salad|
Fresh, crisp greens with green onions leeks (if desired) with a light vinegar and oil dressing.
|Yigandes Plaki: Baked Bean Casserole|
Yigandes are similar to giant dried Lima beans, and this oven-to-table casserole combines them with tomatoes, onions, herbs, and spices to create a fabulous dish.
|Htapothi sti Skhara: Grilled Octopus|
Octopus grilled over an open flame is a classic Greek meze (snack) to serve with ouzo and wine, and a favorite on Clean Monday.
|fried calamari is a delicious dish as well|
|potato salad with parsley, dill, green onion, onion, capers, olive oil and red wine vinegar|
and for dessert...
|Halvas: Semolina Pudding|
Halvas can be made in many different ways, and this version is made with honey, nuts, raisins, and the tastes of cinnamon and cloves, for a wonderful dessert.
And to drink? Ouzo, of course.
Καλη Σαρακοστη !!!Have a good Lent !!!