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March 1, 2024

Clean Monday in Greece: Traditions, Food, Kite Flying, and Celebration Explained

In the heart of Greek tradition lies Clean Monday, a vibrant and significant holiday that marks the beginning of Lent in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Observed with enthusiasm and reverence, this day holds deep cultural and religious importance for Greeks worldwide. Let’s delve into the rich tapestry of Clean Monday, exploring its traditions, delectable foods, joyful kite-flying, and the essence of what this celebration embodies.

Clean Monday in Greece: traditional food

The Meaning of Clean Monday:

Clean Monday, known as “Kathara Deftera” in Greek, falls on the first day of Lent, seven weeks before Greek Orthodox Easter. It symbolizes purification, renewal, and spiritual cleansing. This period of fasting and reflection is a time for believers to prepare their hearts and minds for Easter, the most significant religious celebration in the Orthodox calendar.

Traditions and Customs:

Clean Monday is a day filled with diverse customs that blend ancient rituals with modern celebrations. One of the most iconic traditions is the consumption of Lenten foods, emphasizing simplicity and abstinence from meat and dairy. Traditional delicacies like “lagana,” a flatbread seasoned with sesame seeds, and an array of seafood dishes take center stage on dining tables across Greece.

Families and friends gather for festive picnics in parks, countryside settings, or by the seaside, indulging in a feast of vegetarian fare. Olive oil-drenched dishes, fresh salads, hearty bean soups, and an assortment of olives and pickled vegetables grace the table, fostering a sense of community and togetherness.

Why do Greeks fly kites on Clean Monday:

A cherished aspect of Clean Monday festivities is the age-old tradition of kite flying. As colorful kites dot the sky, laughter and joy fill the air, creating a spectacle that captivates both young and old alike. The act of flying kites symbolizes the freedom of the spirit and the casting away of worldly concerns, echoing the renewal and purification themes of the holiday.

Families often spend the day outdoors, enjoying the brisk spring weather and engaging in friendly kite-flying competitions. It’s a time for bonding, making cherished memories, and relishing the simple pleasures of life against the backdrop of azure skies.


What do Greeks celebrate on Clean Monday:

Clean Monday celebrates the triumph of the spirit over the flesh, inviting believers to embark on a journey of self-reflection, repentance, and spiritual growth. It’s a time to cleanse the soul, renew one’s commitment to faith, and embrace the transformative power of forgiveness and redemption.

Beyond its religious significance, Clean Monday encapsulates the essence of Greek identity and cultural heritage. It’s a day steeped in tradition, where ancient customs intertwine with modern festivities, fostering a sense of continuity and belonging among generations.

When do we celebrate Clean Monday in Greece:

Clean Monday typically falls in late February or early March, varying each year based on the Orthodox calendar. The exact date is determined by the lunar cycle, aligning with the timing of Easter.


Clean Monday serves as a beacon of hope and renewal, heralding the arrival of spring and the promise of spiritual rejuvenation. Through its vibrant traditions, delectable cuisine, and joyful kite-flying, this cherished holiday embodies the resilience, faith, and cultural richness of the Greek people.

As the sun sets on Clean Monday, its spirit of purification and renewal continues to illuminate hearts and minds, inspiring all who partake in its festivities to embrace life’s journey with faith, joy, and gratitude.

Experience Clean Monday in Crete and take part in this festive celebration!

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Category: Travel Blog
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