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Tsiknopempti and Kathara Deftera: the celebrations leading up to Greek Easter

Tsiknopempti y Kathara Deftera: los festejos antes de la Pascua griega

In the Orthodox religion, Easter is a celebration of great importance that is prepared with the “Opening of the Triodion”, the religious book that contains the subjects corresponding to the fasting period before Easter and during the weeks prior to it.

One of the highlights of this period is “Tsiknopempti“, the “Thursday that smells of meat“. Similar to Fat Thursday, friends and family gather and have great barbecue parties and masked dances. If you walk around the streets during Tsiknopempti, almost all butcher shops and souvlaki shops have barbecues offering tapas to passers-by.

Do not miss the opportunity to go to a traditional tavern, enjoying music, Greek wine and many meat “mezedes”!

Eleven days after Tsiknopempti, it is celebrated on Clean Monday, or “Kathara Deftera“, “Kuluma”, just as Catholic countries celebrate Ash Monday. Its celebration marks the end of Carnival and the beginning of Lent.

This celebration has a great family value and people usually celebrate it by making excursions to nearby fields or mountains to have “direct contact” with nature. Those who stay in Athens combine nature and culture, visiting the various hills and often the Filopapos.

Of course, kites are the highlight for children! You can buy them from sellers in all parts of the country and with different printings, but still, some families still do them themselves. The trick to making them fly is secret and always depends on the wind, but it’s worth trying!

If you cannot make your kite fly, do not worry, you’ll have a festive lunch waiting for you! 

The 40-day Lent means practically, among others, a great change in diet. The consumption of meat, eggs and “dairy products” is out of the diet until Easter Sunday.

On this day they eat mainly vegetable dishes, legumes, seafood, squid, shells, octopus and cuttlefish, ointments and olives. All accompanied by wine, tsipouro and ouzo. However, you shouldn’t miss the “taramosalata“, a typical dish with tarama that is salted roe and cured of carp and the “lagana“, the unleavened bread, traditionally made only on “Clean Monday”.

The most common dessert that you will try during Lent is the typical Greek sweet called “halva” a semolina pudding (and it’s delicious!). In addition to the halva, try the traditional spoon sweets -called like that as it is necessary to eat them with a spoon- and these are figs, walnuts, rose petals, etc., all with a kind of syrup.

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