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Greeks celebrate Clean Monday, start of Lent with kite-flying, picnics, music

Greeks around the country celebrated the Clean Monday holiday in the time-honoured fashion, with outdoor activities such as kite-flying and picnics, the traditional lenten delicacies, music and dancing.

While many quit the cities to enjoy the long weekend in the countryside, municipalities in Attica were also throwing parties for those left behind, offering free food, free entertainment and, in some cases, even free kites and kite workshops for children.

In central Athens, Filopappou Hill was once again the go-to location for Athenians, with Athens Mayor Haris Doukas visiting earlier in the day. All the capital’s municipalities have organised their own events, however, and had put their own special flourishes to the day – such as the monster lagana bread measuring three by four metres in western Athens district of Peristeri, where the celebrations included activities for children, a shadow-puppet performance and music by Yiannis Kapsalis and Makis Tsikos.

Athenians dance and listen to live music as they attend the Clean Monday festivities organised by the Municipality of Athens on March 18. [Dimitris Mitsakos/Intime News]

Nearly all the municipalities offered some outdoor musical event starting at 11 a.m. or noon, mostly of traditional or popular Greek music, as well as traditional dancing, though Filothei-Psychiko has organised a concert by Onirama and the Acharnes municipality event featured the Municipal Conservatory orchestra.

Revellers dance traditional Greek dances during Clean Monday celebrations in the city of Patras, southwestern Greece, on 18 March 2024. [Andreas Alexopoulos/Intime News]

Local customs in other parts of Greece are even more colourful and include the “Genitsari and Boules” of Naoussa, though the troupes will this year doff the traditional mask, as well the raucous bell-wearing Koudounoforoi in Soho and carnival parades in several parts of northern Greece, in addition to the usual Clean Monday fare. In Tyrnavos, local residents each year observe the bold traditional custom known as “bourani”, a carnival event which has its roots in Dionysian phallic and fertility rites and features a soup made of wild greens that begin to sprout in spring.

The one-day paan fertility feast of ‘Bourani’ has revelers dancing around a cauldron of spinach soup. [Giorgos Kydonas/Intime News]

Coastal Galaxidi marks the day with feasting, dancing and a “flour war” known as “Alevromoutzouroma”, Thiva has the age-old “Vlach Wedding” custom, while the NeoMagnesian Wedding is a draw for many in Lamia, as are the ‘carnival Indians’ in Makrakomi.

Athenians gather at the park of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Kallithea in southern Athens to picnic and fly kites. [Nikos Panagiotopoulos/Intime News]

Source: AMNA