Meat Day – Burnt Thursday
On the Thursday of the first week of Carnivale, Greeks celebrate
“Tsiknopempti” (Burnt Thursday). This takes place eleven days before
Clean Monday. On this particular Thursday, everyone grills and eats
meat. There are street sellers with mobile grills and the smell of grilled
meat (“tsikna”) and smoke fills the air and so it is also known as
In the past, the kites used to be made by the father or grandfather of the family and so the art of kite making was passed down. However, nowadays,
most people buy a kite instead of making it and they can be seen for sale in many shops and street markets. Clean Monday is a beautiful sight; many
families head to the beach or countryside to fly the kites and have a picnic.
For the Christian Orthodox church, the kite represents the human soul, which flies in the sky free and pure to meet the Creator. Believers are getting
ready for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Orthodox Easter to come.
Clean Monday is meat-free and dairy-free and will include the following food:
Lagana: this is a special bread prepared specifically for this day. The flat bread is prepared without yeast.
Tarama or Taramasalata: this is an authentic Greek dip, consisting of mashed potatoes, fish roe, olive oil, lemons, onions, and breadcrumbs.
Seafood: as meat is a no-no, all kinds of seafood are eaten on this day. Grilled octopus, grilled or stuffed squid, oysters and mussels to name just a few.
Olive oil: plays a major part on Clean Monday’s table. Olive oil is the perfect accompaniment to a slice of lagana bread.
Fasolada: this is a white bean soup that is usually referred to as the “National Dish” of Greece. It is made from white beans, vegetables, tomato sauce,
onions, and water. It is a hearty soup and is often accompanied by salted sardines.
Halva: this is the most common dessert during Lent and the shelves in supermarkets are piled high with it. There are two types - one consists of
semolina pudding and raisins and the other is made out of sesame tahini. The second one is more common for Clean Monday.
Potomos Beach, Malia, Crete
Everyone takes to the beach to fly their kites….
Tyrini Week (Cheese week) takes its name from the Greek word for cheese “Tyri”. It is the
last week of Carnivale before the start of Lent, which begins on Kathara Deftera (Clean or
Ash Monday). All food, except red meat and chicken, are permitted during this week, but
the main event is cheese and dairy products. There is an opportunity to use up anything
already in the fridge, which would otherwise spoil during the 40 days of Lent. It’s also an
opportunity to gorge on feta, which the Greeks sorely miss during Lent.
Followers of the Greek Orthodox religion will only eat a pescatarian diet (a vegetarian diet
that includes fish and seafood) during cheese week.
Neapoli Lent Celebrations