Orthodox Christians Around the World Celebrate Clean Monday on March 14

Orthodox Christians will free themselves of the burden of sin on March 14 as part of the Lent season.

Orthodox Christians all over the world celebrate Clean Monday on March 14. No, it doesn’t mean deep cleaning your house.

On Clean Monday one leaves behind past sins and enters the Great Lent period with a clean heart – in other words, fired up and ready to celebrate Easter.

According to Global World, a website with an international calendar of religious observances, Clean Monday is the first day of the Great Lent that precedes Easter in Orthodox Christian Churches.  As early as the first century, Christians celebrated Easter, and Lent was observed to prepare for it.  Historically, Clean Monday became a celebration of its own. Fasting is observed, and eating meat is forbidden. This is why Clean Monday dishes mainly consists of fish or shellfish. A dip that consists of salted and cured roe from carp or cod, mixed with olive oil, lemon juice and bread crumbs, named “taramosalata,” is also consumed on Clean Monday.

The day of Clean Monday became a way to push forward all that Christians had in store for them in Lent. It was a “stepping stone” to begin the period of sacrifice that is Lent, where the soul is expected to prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus with selfless acts such as fasting, almsgiving, self-denial, penitence and simplicity.

Clean Monday is a public holiday in several Orthodox Christian countries. Greece is the birthplace of Orthodox Christianity.

In Greece, Clean Monday, called “Kathari Deftera” in Greek, is a family celebration with picnics on the beach, kite flying and throwing colored flour at each other on the streets. Kite flying marks the beginning of spring. Greek children make “Kyra Saroksti” or “Lady Lent,” a seven-legged paper doll, each leg symbolizing the the seven weeks of Lent. As each week before Easter passes, a leg is cut. People also throw colored flour at each other in the streets of the city, a festival known as the Aleuromountzouromata. In Tyrnavos, the day is celebrated in exactly the opposite way, and it is called Dirty Monday, a festival in the honor of Dionysus. People drink wine from phallic-shaped cups and sexual jokes are told.

While Clean Monday starts on the first day of the seventh week before the Orthodox Christian Sunday, liturgically Clean Monday and Lent begin on the preceding Sunday night. A special service is held where followers bow down before each other, asking for forgiveness.  This helps the faithful begin lent with a clean conscience, reconciliation and renewal.

Clean Monday is globally also called Pure Monday, Ash Monday, Monday of Lent and Green Monday. It originates from the writings of the Old Testament, which call for removing past sins and purifying oneself through prayer.


Follow the Conversation on Twitter