What is the “Clean Monday” day?
The Clean Monday is the first day of Lent, the fasting Easter for all orthodox. By folklorists it is considered the epilogue of Bacchic festivities of Carnival, which effectively start on what we call “Tsiknopempth” (the Pancake Day) and end on Clean Monday.
Essentially that happened just this Monday in Greece so i guess it is a nice opportunity to talk a bit more on that subject.
The dish of the day include fasting as a detoxification of the rich feast of Carnival. Halva, preserved fish roe, olives, pickles, seafood, bean soup, on the agenda. The Lenten foods are accompanied by Lagana, a type of bread without yeast, with elliptical shape and chunky so it can be easily cooked.
The celebration of carnival in the countryside called Koulouma. The etymology of the word is Latin (koloumna = column Koumoulos = pile, top) or Albanian origin (Colum = net). The Municipality of Athens Koulouma celebrated the Hill of Philopappou, as in many municipalities of the country, with tender bean soup and lenten the citizens.
Necessary complement of carnival is flying the kite, with a variety of colors and designs, from small and large, probably to throw away any worries of winter, since entering the spring and all, at least in nature, are happier because of flowering and better weather.
Nevertheless, this is not always the case. Unfortunately recently the weather becomes even more unpredictable even in Greece. Despite that there is a huge variety in the designs of the kites as you can see.
Either way, as the focus is on the food. My memory from Clean Monday is always a table full of sea food and especially mussels and clams.
My father would always get fresh mussels and clams from the seafood market in Athens which we would eat them most of the times raw with a bit of lemon. Accompanied of course with lagana, pickles and many salads.
The problems with them would be that you would need to learn how to open them as they are still alive. If you are not good on them it might be a long day for you.
So…”Clean Monday”…essentially the day where every Orthodox christian should stop eating meat for 40 days until Easter comes.
I have to say i am not really good in keeping that unfortunately but still it is a special day in Greece from any point of view.
Especially if you are interested in good food!