Clean Monday: Like Greeks do
Clean Monday is one of the most important feasts all over Greece and comes together with a wide range of cultural and religious traditions that are brought to life again. The day is traditionally celebrated with outdoor excursions and the consumption of fasting foods.
What Is Clean Monday
This day marks the beginning of the Great Lent period for Orthodox believers and the end of the Greek Carnival. It is celebrated 50 days before Orthodox Easter.
In Greek, this day is known as “Kathara Deftera” or “Koulouma”. Koulouma means the massive visit of people to the countryside to celebrate Clean Monday. The word derives from the Latin word “columus”, which means excess and aplenty.
Clean Monday menu: 5+1 dishes that must be on your table on this day.
The various accompaniments may change, but the Clean Monday table is not complete without:
Lagana: the Greek Sesame Flatbread! Prepared specifically for this day, Lagana is thin, crunchy and absolutely delicious!
Olive oil: the golden product of the Greek land has a major part on Clean Monday’s table. Olive oil makes the food taste better and is also the perfect starter with a slice of lagana bread.
Taramasalata: creamy, smooth, and intense flavored, this dip is a must on Clean Monday’s table. Made from fish roe, olive oil, lemons, onions, and breadcrumbs, it is considered to be an authentic Greek fish roe dip.
Fasolada: no Clean Monday’s table is ready without the “National Dish” of Greece! The traditional Greek white bean soup taste is hearty and it is often accompanied by salted sardines.
Seafood: as meat is not part of the menu, all kinds of seafood play a major role. Grilled octopus, grilled or stuffed squid, oysters, and mussels are just a few of this day’s specials.
Halva: With no eggs or dairy in the recipe, this is the most common dessert during the Lent period. Fact: There are two types of recipes. The first one consists of semolina pudding and raisins and the second one is made out of sesame tahini. The second one is the choice for Clean Monday, as it does not contain olive oil, butter or eggs.
Kite-flying and picnic in the city
If the weather holds up, then Kathara Deftera is the day Greeks fly kites apart from devouring delicious treats. We could say that this day is the unofficial start of Spring.
Kite-flying has become a “must” on Clean Monday, especially by those who have children expecting to go kite-flying. If they are blessed with fine weather, locals and families tear themselves away from the table, wrap up a chunk of sweet halva and head to a park to enjoy the spectacle of hundreds of colorful kites dancing in the air.
Seih Sou Suburban forest, the beach of Nea Krini , the thematic parks of Nea Paralia and the gardens of Pasha are on the top of the list of the places that locals gathering to enjoy springtime.
Countryside and 1-day excursions from the hustle and bustle of the city is also a great idea for all those who want to mix up with the locals, enjoy the sea, the sun, the fresh air and all the good things nature has to offer.
Irresistible blues, crowded and isolated beaches, dozens of taverns, literally on the beach, fresh seafood and traditional clean-Monday-dishes accompanied by excellent local wine and raki made by local producers in the traditional way, are just a breath away from Thessaloniki. The Municipality of Thermaicos is one of the most famous getaways on this day and the reason is simple: it is an all-in-one destination!
Another escape for the day is the dam of Thermi. With its artificial lake, the dam of Thermi (Fragma Thermis) is an oasis of coolness for the locals. Walk among lush pine trees, discover paths and trails, take a deep breath and feel the brisk forest air fill your lungs. From there you can follow the marked path of Vathilakkos that will lead you to Platanakia in Panorama, for the perfect ending to the day: fasting dishes!