The customs of Clean Monday

Clean Monday is a symbolic day for Orthodox Christians. It marks the end of the Triode and the beginning of Lent, the great fast of Easter, which lasts seven weeks. This day is celebrated in all regions of Greece with various events. What mainly characterizes this day are the customs that remain unchanged over time. Lagana and kite flying are two of these customs.

Lagana is the bread eaten on that day. It is unleavened bread, i.e. it is prepared without leaven, it is thin and crispy with sesame seeds. This type of bread was consumed by the Israelites on the night they made their Exodus from Egypt. The lagana has existed since ancient times, as it is mentioned by Aristophanes in the “Ecclesiastics”, where it is said “Lagana is thrown” i.e. “Laganas are made”. In the texts of Horace it is referred to as “The sweetening of the poor”. In the past, they made the lagans in the form of a woman, the “Lent Lady”. The woman had seven legs, which symbolized the seven weeks of fasting, a cross on the head or chest, hands folded as when we pray and no mouth, thus indicating fasting (Κεφαλάς, 2021). People, keeping alive the customs of this day, accompany fasting dishes such as seafood, halva, tarama, olives, pickles and legumes, with lagana.

Kite flying is a custom found in other countries as well. In Germany it is called Drachen, which means dragon, in Japan tako which means octopus, in Mexico paralote which means butterfly and in England kite, which is the name of a bird. Although there are references to the kite in ancient times, it is a custom that originated in China, where kites were made from bamboo, silk and paper and used to ward off evil spirits. Later the kite became known in Europe and other parts of the world. Flying the kite in the Greek Christian tradition is related to the Chinese. It symbolizes the flight of the human soul towards heaven and God. Some beliefs held that the higher the kite flies, the more easily God will hear our prayers and fulfill them (Καθαρά Δευτέρα: Τα έθιμα, η ιστορία και ο συμβολισμός του χαρταετού, 2021). In the past, families used to make the kite themselves using reeds, string and paper. These days there is an abundance of kites in various shapes and designs, ready to fly!

Καθαρά Δευτέρα: Τα έθιμα, η ιστορία και ο συμβολισμός του χαρταετού (2021). Retrieved February 10, 2023 from
Κεφαλάς, Π. (2021). H ιστορία της λαγάνας και η κυρά Σαρακοστή – Το ψωμί της Καθαρής Δευτέρας. Retrieved February 10, 2023 from