Clean Monday (Kathari Deftera )

Clean Monday, called Kathari Deftera in Greece, is a public holiday in Greece and Cyprus, where it is celebrated with outdoor excursions, the consumption of shellfish and other fasting food, a special kind of azyme bread, baked only on that day, named “lagana”  and the widespread custom of flying kites. Eating meat, eggs and dairy products is traditionally forbidden to Orthodox Christians throughout Lent, with fish being eaten only on major feast days, but shellfish is permitted in European denominations. This has created the tradition of eating elaborate dishes based on seafood (shellfish, molluscs, fish roe etc.).

Traditionally, it is considered to mark  the beginning of the spring season, a notion which was used symbolically in Ivan Bunin’s critically acclaimed story, Pure Monday. People on Clean Monday usually take their picnic baskets and put inside fasting foods because it is the day that Lent begins. (40 days before Easter)