Monday, 15 February 2010
also known as Pure Monday. According to Orthodox beliefs and customs, yesterday was the last day of the Carnival. Today we celebrate the first day of a fasting period that will last until Easter. In order to celebrate the end of that sinful period and the beginning of a cleansing and preparatory period, today is a bank holiday in Greece.
This celebration is quite different than Mardi Gras because the Great Lent has already began and no sinful practices (in theory) should take place. Traditionally, people escape from the cities to have picnics that day. No meat or dairy is allowed of any kind but only simple foods like olives, beans, taramosalata and specially prepared bread. Also, this is the only day of the year where kites are flown all around the country.
Some of my very early childhood memories are linked to Clean Monday. We used to gather in a field with 3 or more other families of friends with children of similar age. Back then we tried to make our own rhombus or hexagonal shaped kites from light wood and tough cloth used for sailing. It can get quite tricky to get the perfect weight and balance using colourful tails from pieces of ribbon.
So, that day was carefree spent outdoors playing while enjoying the fact of not having to go to school. Today, many years after that, I live and work in London. Of course it’s not a bank holiday here and I have to be at work. The only thing reminding me of flying kites, home made taramosalata or running around outdoors is some articles of a Greek newspaper I read online or the fact that none of my friends is online to chat on IM. I really hope they're having fun...