Greek tradition : Celebration of Kathari Deftera

Greek tradition : Celebration of Kathari Deftera is in Greece public national holiday celebrated this year on next Monday 18th. It is Clean Monday feast and also the start of 40 days orthodox lenten before Easter. Greek people celebrate Kathari Deftera in a specific beautiful way with flying kites, day-trip to the sea side or to the countryside and with typical greek fasting food

Kathari Deftera (Kαθαρά Δευτέρα in greek) means Clean Monday and means that it’s the day you leave behind you all sinful behaviours and non-fasting foods. In Western Catholic church, it is Ash Wednesday. It is the end of Patra’s carnival in Greece and the beginning of 40 days’ greek fasting with period of repentance and self control as it is written in the Gospel according to Apostle Matthew.

How greeks celebrate Kathari Deftera ? Its a great day coming from Byzantine orthodox period. This day is now spent as I mention below :

  • Outdoor excursions are organized by all greek families : They go outside with their picnic baskets at the seaside or at the countryside or go to ouzeri to eat fasting food. They listen to music and dance.
  • They fly kites for the children. Doing that they send far away from them all sins of the past but also send wishes.
  • They consume with Tsipouro (greek aperitive alcohol) greek traditional fasting food as greek shellfish. They have in greek Lagana greek bread or flatbread.


Here is the Greek Kathari Deftera shell fishs which you can find on every greek table or ouzeri restaurant  in Greece:
  •  Gialisteres in greek which are mollusk bivalves shells (Callista Chione scientific name). Except that it is very tasty, I have always found this smooth brown Venus-clam beautiful with its shiny texture outside and its red scarlet colour. They are served fresh with lemon juice (see photo below).
  • Fouskes in greek which are grooved sea squirts. They are served fresh with lemon juice.  This kind of seaquirt found in East Mediterranean seas is difficult to be collected because its exterior appearance looks like every ordinary stone of sea coast rocks covered with seaweed. Except that it’s wildly beautiful inside and it has a strong aftertaste of iodine but it’s a very nice greek mezze (see photo below).
  • Pinna is a kind of pen shells, a clam bivalve mollusc wedge shaped shell  Some people eat it just found fresh from the sea after having extracted the non eatable parts of if but because of its interior appearance not really attractive, greeks usually cook the inside edible parts with cheeses and tomatoe (saganaki).
  • Htenia in greek are scallops, marine bivalve mollusk found in all mediterranean sea. They have bright color and these fan shaped shells are very tasty and beautiful just seeing it on the table (see photo below)
  • Eating sea urchin in Greece is nice : Greek cut into two halves and eat the interior with little bread, lemon and little fork (see photo below)
  • Kolitsiani from the anemone Sulcata are deep-fried in oil and eaten as croquettes with an intense seafood taste (see photo below)
It is also the day you have your very greek taramosalata freshly handmade. Authentic Tarama dip recipe is simple :  you buy at the supermarket 200 grams of fish roe from cod eggs caviar (you can have pink caviar but in my opinion, it is not so tasty) and then in the mixer you blend 1 onion, a cup of olive oil, 2 lemons and 1 wet white bread. You can also have tzatziki in your Kathari Deftera table (see photo below)
To make your day even more milder, do not lose your greek halva cake recipe ! Greek halva is a must on your table.  Halvas consists of mixed toasted sesame seeds (tahini) with sugar & glucose until it forms a solid mass.  It is left to cool and harden. Cocoa, peanuts, pistachios, almonds or candied fruit can be added to produce a variety of flavors.
I think I didn’t forget much to tell you about Kathari Deftera in Greece. If you are that day in Greece, you will have a great time with Greek people who, although economical crisis, do not forget to smile for their Greek deep inside traditions.
You can have some food I mentioned above in some greek markets in big town but you can buy greek food online at To buy traditional greek food products, just ckick on the below frames.


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