We celebrate Clean Monday,(kathari defterea), first Monday in Lent in Greece today. It is a public holiday for us.
Kathari deftera comes from the Greek words kathari, the root of which means pure or "clean", especially in a spiritual sense, and deftera, the second, which means - Monday, the "second" day of the week as Sunday, kyriakos or "the Lord's day" is considered to be the first day of the week.
Clean Monday is technically the first day of the 40 days of Sarakosti, "the forty", referring to the 40 days of Lent prior to Easter.Foods during the seven weeks of Lent are fixed according to lenten restrictions. This generally means no meat or fish (nothing with red blood) and nothing derived from animals with red blood (no milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, etc.) Yeah,a vegeterian's paradise! Most people do not keep the tradition,ecxept on the first week of Lent,beginning with kathara deftera today and the last before Easter .
While it is part of Lent, and Lenten food restrictions are observed, it has become a family holiday with picnics and kite-flying. So we're off to fly a kite!
My Kathara Deftera begun with a nice,relaxing shower
After getting everyone ready and buying our kite,we set off. Our destination was a little monastery up in the mountains, a few kilometeres away from Serres,my hometown.There are no nuns there now,except it is often visited by localpeople
It was cloudy when we set off and there was fresh snow in the nearby mountains. You need windy weather for Kathara Deftera,to fly your kite. Not so promising today,but still!
We arrived twenty minutes later. My sister and son-in-law and my youngest's godfmother and her husband were already there waiting for us,along with fifty or sixty more people.
We had a nice view of the whole town and its plain
..and the odd farm here and there
The monastery was well kept and cosy ,with a nice cloistered yard
and a little monastery church after the Greek Eastern Orthodox model
The first thing you do upon entering such a church is cross yourself and light a candle that represents your particular prayer or wish to God. You may light more if you are praying for more people or have more things to ask from God( this is rather simpliastic,but I am not a theologist,so there!)
The icon of the patron saint to whom the church is dedicated-in this case Saint Demetrius,a local patron of Macedonia,where he lived- is always on your right of the church.
After petting the monastery cat
it was kite time!
My husband did a pretty good job at that,along with our two youngest.(the two oldest ones consider themselves too old for family outings!!!)
The kite was up and flying! Though sadly not for long,the weather didn't help much!
Then I spotted a little farm with cows and horses about half a kilometer away and the kids asked me to go visit it.
You can't tell from the picture,but the ground was all muddy because of yesterday's heavty rain,espercially around the farm. Our shoes got much worse for wear after that!
There were around three dozens of free range cows scattered there and we could also see half a dozen horses in in another,secluded place. We didnt venture nearer though,because I spotted a non-too friendly looking bull in the distance,so we left.
Then it was time to go inside the lounge room of the monastery. The church people has a nice fire lit up there along with a free lenten meal of traditional Greek food for all visitors,as Greek hospitality tradition dictates.
The meal included the traditional Kathara Deftera bean soup (fasolatha), lagana bread, olives,pickles and halva for dessert along with soft drinks. There were around sixty or more people present and three cauldrons of fasolatha soup-see the picture after the ladies did the washing up- had been prepared. Many of the guest women there were working in the kitchen to help serve everyone and clean up afterwards. There was a nice,cosy,informal community atmosphere all around as most of us knew most people there.
Then it was goodbye time and time to head for home
Love,peace and keeping traditions