Clean Monday, also known as “Kathara Deftera” in Greek, is celebrated on the first Monday of Lent in the Eastern Orthodox Christian faith. This day marks the beginning of the Lenten fast, a period of 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday. Clean Monday usually falls between February 15 and March 21, depending on the date of Easter.
On Clean Monday in Crete, locals gather with family and friends to enjoy a traditional meal of seafood and vegetarian dishes, including the famous “Lagana” bread that is only baked on this day.
Other Cretan delicacies such as “Taramosalata,” “Dolmades” and “Gigantes” are also served.
In addition to the food, flying kites is a long-standing tradition on Clean Monday. Children and adults alike take to the beaches and fields to fly kites in various shapes and sizes, adding to the festive atmosphere.
Overall, Clean Monday is a day of joy and celebration , with locals coming together to enjoy delicious food, spend time with loved ones and participate in traditional activities.
Here is a recipe for Gigantes, a traditional Greek lent food:
- 1 pound (500g) dry gigantes (giant white beans)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 can (14 oz/400g) crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups water
- Rinse the gigantes in cold water and soak them in plenty of water overnight, or at least 8 hours.
- Drain the gigantes and rinse them again in cold water.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- In a large baking dish, combine the gigantes, onion, garlic, olive oil, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, salt, and black pepper. Mix well.
- Add enough water to cover the gigantes, then cover the dish with aluminum foil.
- Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until the gigantes are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
- Remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes to allow the top to brown slightly.
- Serve warm or at room temperature, with some crusty bread on the side.
Enjoy this delicious and hearty traditional Greek lent food!