Clean Monday/ Kathara Deftera
Clean Monday, also known as Green Monday, is a movable feast that occurs at the beginning of the 7th week before Orthodox Easter Sunday. The common term for this day, “Clean Monday”, refers to the leaving behind of sinful attitudes and non-fasting foods. Clean Monday is a public holiday in Greece and Cyprus, where it is celebrated with outdoor excursions, the consumption of shellfish and other fasting food like halva, a special kind of azyme bread, baked only on that day, named “lagana” and the widespread custom of flying kites!
In Cyprus, on Easter Saturday evening it is customary for people to light great fires in schools or church yards. The fires are made up of scrap wood, gathered usually by over-enthusiastic young boys which scour their neighborhoods for them, in order to make their fire as great as it can be (and bigger than the neighboring one). More than often this competition leads to fights happening over scraps of wood and the police or fire department being called to put out the fires that have gone out of control. It is customary for a small doll representing Judas Iscariot to be burnt in this fire and a bracelet made from red and white yarn named “Martis” that people usually wear from the 1st of March so as not to get burned by the sun during hot Cypriot summers.
Kataklysmos – The Cyprus Water Festival
This is a religious public holiday for the feast of the Pentecost, otherwise known as Whitsun, or the day of the Holy Spirit, as it commemorates the descent of the Holy Ghost to the Apostles. The festival that takes place is known as Kataklysmos, or the water festival. The feast of the Pentecost is always 50 days after Greek Orthodox Easter. The water festival events are taking place mostly in the coastal towns, but also wherever there is water, such as rivers, dams etc. Thousands of people attend these events as they are fun for all the family, and take place around the water, which is good for cooling off when the Cyprus weather is warming up.