On Monday, 27th February, the Greek people of Athens will be celebrating ‘Kathari Deftera’, aka Clean Monday, Orthodox Shrove Monday or Ash Monday. It is the first day of Orthodox Christian Great Lent that occurs at the beginning of the 7th week before Easter Sunday. The public holiday will be a day of great celebrations, delicious food and family traditions.
It’s an event to spend with the family where people usually go out in taverns for sea food eating. The food choices for this occasion vary from olives, shrimp, fish, feta cheese, taramosalata (fish roe dip), dry bread and yigandes (baked bean casserole). Octopus grilled over an open flame is a classic Greek meze to serve with ouzo and wine, and a favourite on Clean Monday. (For the less adventurous, fried calamari is a delicious alternative.)
Clean Monday is also considered to mark the first day of spring, Greeks tend to celebrate it with outdoor activities. A favorite place to hang out is Filopappos Hill where you will see many Greek families, young and old, picnicking and flying kites! The hill is situated just opposite the Acropolis and even if you don’t have a kite, the hill offers the most amazing, uninterrupted view of the Acropolis and beyond to Pireaus, Aegina and other neighboring islands (but the kite is highly recommended).
So go out and enjoy this festive event along with your glass of wine and ouzo to the sound of live music provided by the municipality of Athens.