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Clean Monday our koulouma in Greece

Clean Monday is one of the most important bank holidays in Greece, follows immediately after the Carnival Sunday (Apokries).

This tradition does not have a stable day of celebration but is dependent on Orthodox Easter. Clean Monday is celebrated 40 days before Orthodox Easter.

Why is it called Clean Monday?

There are two different explanations . The first one derives from the Orthodox Christian religion. After the consumption of big amounts of meat during the carnival, Clean Monday comes to clean and purify the body and soul and prepare believers for Easter.

The second one comes from everyday life, as it says that women used to clean so many pots after the end of the carnival, that they did not have time for anything else.

Other Names for Clean Monday.

In addition to Ash Monday, Clean Monday is known by other names among different groups of Eastern Christians. Pure Monday is the most common name; among Greek Catholics and Orthodox, Clean Monday is referred to by its Greek name, Kathari Deftera (just as Mardi Gras is simply French for "Fat Tuesday").

Another name for Clean Monday is Koulouma. Koulouma means the massive visit of people to the countryside to celebrate Clean Monday. The word derives from the Latin word “columus”, which means excess and aplenty.


When the weather allows it, young and old, families and friends go to the countryside and attempt to fly a kite. Usually, you will also find traditional Greek music and different happenings, organized by the public authorities.

The celebrations of Clean Monday have as a main activity, kite-flying.

Kite flying itself is an ancient tradition, thought to have originated in ancient China. Throughout the ages, the tradition of flying kites was adopted by other cultures, and new shapes and forms emerged to reflect local legends and customs. It has thus been deeply rooted in Orthodox Christian tradition as well, as it symbolises the passing of the human soul to Heaven and God, with people in older times even believing that the higher their kite flew the more possible it would be for their prayers to be heard by God.

The custom of flying kites on Clean Monday is directly linked to the spiritual state of mind of Orthodox Christians: on this day, they start on the path of physical and spiritual purification, through a long fasting period, and rededicate themselves to a more righteous way of living.

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