Get Out Your Kite and Sharpen Your Appetite for Clean Monday
So carnival Season will have closed after the final events in Argosotoli and Lixouri on the 10th March, tsiknopempti has long ago come and gone, we have feasted on many cheeses, so theoretically its time to abstain from certain foods until Greek Easter.
This day in Greece is called Kathara Deftera, literally translates to Clean Monday, and symbolises the beginning of a fasting period which is meant to cleanse the body and soul through the medium of fasting, as well as the purification of the mind through religious contemplation.
Families normally gather for a large Clean Monday lunch and sit at a table laden with various types of meze and food, the central stars of which are lagana, taramosalata and halva . The Clean Monday table also features vegetarian dishes, beans, shellfish, octopus and squid but no meat or fish.
Apart from devouring delicious Clean Monday treats, tradition also dictates that you take to the hills or the beaches with a kite to fly. Kite-flying has become a firmly-grounded tradition on Clean Monday, and being a public holiday, it is a chance to enjoy the advancing spring weather. In Greece, the preferred kite shape is a hexagon or octagon, as opposed to a diamond. Kite flying is such an integral part of the day that the weather forecast for Clean Monday is closely followed in the preceding days, especially by those who have children expecting to go kite-flying.
Nobody is quite sure where the kite-flying tradition came from. Some say that the ancient Greek mathematician Archytas designed and flew the first kite to test aerodynamics, while others believe it started when people would write wishes on the kites and fly them as high as possible for the gods to answer.