Greek Language Blog

Let the kites fly, it’s Clean Monday! Posted by on Mar 3, 2014 in Culture



Clean Monday (Καθαρά Δευτέρα, Kathara Deftera) is the first day of the Lent that lasts until Easter. It is called “clean” (καθαρά, kathara) because the Christian believers purify themselves spiritually and physically by eliminating the consumption of meat, eggs and dairy products and by abstaining from sin.


Each region has its own customs but generally Clean Monday is celebrated outdoors. This celebration is called κούλουμα (koulouma). People fly kites and have picnics. They eat special dishes such as seafood (θαλασσινά, thalassina), legumes (όσπρια, ospria) especially giant beans (φασόλια γίγαντες, fasolia gigantes), fish roe dip (ταραμοσαλάτα, taramosalata), vegetables (λαχανικά, lahanika) and an azyme bread called λαγάνα (lagana). As a sweet dessert, they eat a type of halva (χαλβάς).
In Athens the celebrations take place at the Philopappou Hill (Λόφος Φιλοπάππου, lofos filopapou). In 1990, the celebration is held under the auspices of the Municipality of Athens and many events, such as traditional Greek dances, are organized. Greek politicians, especially mayoral candidates, visit the hill and spend time with the citizens.



Words and expressions

  • Καλή Σαρακοστή (kali sarakosti): Happy Lent

“Καλή Σαρακοστή!” (kali sarakosti) Happy Lent!

“Επίσης!”  (episis) Same to you!

  • Καλά κούλουμα

Ο Δήμος Αθηναίων σας εύχεται Καλά κούλουμα.
(O dimos Athineon sas efhetai kala koulouma)
The Municipality of Athens wishes you kala koulouma.

  • Νηστίσιμος-η-ο (nistisimos): fasting

Τα φασόλια και οι φακές είναι νηστίσιμα φαγητά. (Ta fasolia ke oi fakes ine nistisima fagita)
Beans and lentils are fasting foods.

  • Νηστεύω (nistevo): to fast

Η Μαρία νηστεύει τη σαρακοστή. (I Maria nistevei ti sarakosti)
Maria  fasts during Lent.

  • Χαρταετός (ο) (hartaetos): kite

Αν βρέχει δε θα πετάξουμε χαρταετό. (An vrehei de tha petaxoume hartaeto)
If it rains we won’t fly a kite.

If you are a  giant beans lover, you may find a recipe here: However, it is not fasting because it contains olive oil.

And this is a video of a ταραμοσαλάτα (taramosalata) recipe. Ταραμοσαλάτα (fish roe dip) is a must eat on Clean Monday. Be careful though because it has a lot of calories! Καλή όρεξη! (kali orexi) Bon appetit!

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About the Author: Ourania

Ourania lives in Athens. She holds a degree in French Literature and a Master’s degree in Special Education for Children. Since 2008, she has been teaching Greek to foreigners.