People try to fly their kites at Filopappos Hill in Athens, Greece, on Feb. 19, 2018. Families across Greece celebrated the end of the carnival season and the start of Lent on Monday, exchanging wishes for health and prosperity. Photo:Xinhua
Families across Greece celebrated the end of the carnival season and the start of Lent on Monday, exchanging wishes for health and prosperity.
Clean Monday (Kathara Deytera in Greek) is a public holiday here, marking the 40 day countdown to Easter for Greece Orthodox Christians.
Traditionally the day is celebrated with picnics with family and friends, open air parties with dance-music performances organized by municipalities as well as kite flying for kids.
According to tradition, over the next six weeks, faithful Greeks will not consume meat, eggs and dairy products to "clean their body and soul" for Easter.
Although many Greeks nowadays do not fast for the 40 days to Easter, most people observe the custom on Clean Monday and enjoy special dishes based on seafood, "lagana" bread which is baked only on this day, and many other delicacies.
The municipality of Kallithea, an Athens southern suburb, offered 3,000 dishes of traditional fast snacks to people who visited the Stavros Niarchos park by the seaside on Monday.
"We observe customs. We have arranged bands playing traditional Greek music and we have set table with fast delicacies," Mayor Dimitris Karnavos told Xinhua.
Despite the dull weather, people flooded the park to celebrate the day.
"Citizens are coming in waves from the morning with big smiles on their faces and determination to have fun," Karnavos said.
According to scholars, kite flying in Greece was passed on over the centuries from people who had travelled to the East. Others insist that it goes back to the experiments of Greek mathematician Archytas (428-347 BC).
Despite the debate about the origins, everyone agrees on the joy of competing to send a kite higher than others.
"It is the first time we are flying a kite with our kid. We are trying. It is going fine. I wish happy lent and all the best to everybody," Leonidas A. told Xinhua.
Yorgos Tsanellis came to enjoy the music show before going home to prepare a traditional lunch for his family and friends. "From today we will stop eating meat and cheese," he told Xinhua.