Greece celebrates Clean Monday Day

In Greece, Clean Monday Day is celebrated widely and with various traditions, being an important holiday. On this day, throughout the country it is customary to eat lagana – unleavened bread prepared specially for this occasion, as well as taram, halva, seafood, vegetables, olives and beans without oil. Traditional customs include kite flying and the custom of Gaitanaki, which came to Greece with refugees from Asia Minor. On Olympus, Mesta and Chios the custom of Aga is revived, where an actor in the role of a judge humorously pronounces a “sentence” on the audience. Another traditional custom, dating back to the Turkish occupation, is for a resident of Alexandroupoli to dress up as a bey and walk around the city, while exchanging wishes. In Poros, there is a custom of cartism, where residents clean their cooking utensils from the fat of meat eaten during Halloween. In some villages in Corfu there is a Dance of the Fathers where the priests dance followed by the elders. In Karpathos, residents who commit obscene gestures are tried for immoral acts by the Tsafiedes (gendarmes). Methoni, Messinia hosts the Koutroulis wedding, reflecting wedding customs from the 14th century. Farmers in Nedus celebrate their rural carnival, inviting prosperity. At Vonitsa, a straw fisherman trailing a donkey through the village is caught in a burning boat, according to the custom of Achirenios-Gligorakis. A Vlach wedding takes place in Thebes, where the groom shaves his head to marry the “bride,” who is actually a man from his village. And finally, in Polisito Vistonidas, the Mudzurids smear tobacco on village visitors.

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