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Clean Monday or pure Monday is a public holiday in Greece.
For the orthodox Christians the fasting period before Easter starts on Clean Monday and last for 40 days, as many days as Jesus fasted in the dessert. This specific day, Christians “clean” themselves physically as well as spiritually. In other words, Christians leave behind every sin and say goodbye to the non-fasting foods. This is how the name Clean Monday was introduced. Actually the whole week is called Clean week and according to the custom, during this week people go to confession and clean thoroughly their houses.
Pure Monday is connected with outdoors activities . People leaving their cities and they travel to the countryside(εξοχή) to friends or family residences, for the celebration. The ones that stay behind in the city, they usually take their picnic basket and go to open areas, to dine and fly kite (χαρταετός). The food that is consumed at this day is mainly shellfish (οστρακοειδή) and other fish food accompanied with several kinds of salad (σαλάτα), a kind red caviar that we call tarama(ταραμά), halva (χαλβά) and of course lagana! Lagana (λαγάνα )is a special azyme bread that is baked only on that day and symbolizes the help offered by God to the Israeli people while leading them away from Egypt to the promised land.
There is the term koulouma (κούλουμα) that we use to describe the celebration activities of the Clean Monday. It is not exactly known where the word koulouma came from. There are several opinions, but the most known is that the word koulouma is coming from the Latin word cumulus that means abundance and end. It denotes the end of Apokries (carnival).
Of course it cannot be any kind of celebration in Greece without traditional and a lot of dance music (παραδοσιακή μουσική και πολύ χορό). There is a celebrating atmosphere everywhere and After Christmas is one of the childrens’ favorite days. The sky is full of big (μεγάλους), small (μικρούς), fancy (εντυπωσιακούς), handmade (χειροποίητους), colorful (πολύχρωμους) and in several shapes kites. Children (but also grownups!) compete each other who has the most beautiful kite and who has the one that goes higher than all the others. The kite symbolizes the soul of the man who is made to “fly” in heaven. Some other say that we fly a kite in order to send away all bad things and so to prepare for purification.
Χαλβάς Λαγάνα Ταραμάς