Saturday, March 15, 2008

Clean Monday

Monday was the beginning of Lent, which is celebrated in Greece (and elsewhere) as a public holiday, full of ancient customs coming down to us from at least Byzantine times.

In Greece, Clean Monday is traditionally a day to gather with family and community and go outside to fly kites. Here in our little town of Panorama, everyone gathers at the town park to listen to traditional Pontian music (Panorama was settled, in recent times, by Pontian refugees). The municipality also offers some free fasting foods (beans, bread, fish roe salad, etc).

It was a beautiful day (as it has been lately) as you can see from the photos, but there wasn't much wind for all the people trying to get their kites up in the air.

As this article observes, the festive atmosphere may seem somewhat at odds with the penitential nature of Lent. It certainly seemed so to me last year. But, again as this article succinctly notes, it is a fulfillment of Christ's command, which is (not coincidentally) read the day before:

“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly."

In the top photo, you can see the little band playing on the left, and people doing traditional Greek dancing on the right, behind the woman selling balloons for the kids.

The second photo is of a little corner of the park that we found to gather with some of our friends.

The third photo is of a little girl from town trying to get her kite up in the air, as many people were doing.

Finally, on completely different note, Pelagia has been hard at work. About a week ago she finished a large, two-week project of completely repainting an apartment in our building. Then she moved on to repainting (or, more accurately, completely re-designing) our bedroom. The bottom photo shows her at work.

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