Monday, 7 March 2011

Clean Monday - Καθαρά Δευτέρα

So today is Καθαρά Δευτέρα 'Clean Monday', the start of the 40 days before Easter Sunday. It is the time when most Greeks give up all meat produce and go vegan which represents the 40 days that Jesus fasted in the desert in the days leading up to his crucifixion. 

It is also traditional to fly kites which is symbolic of scaring away evil! (Read the spittin' superstitious post for more about that stuff!)

Kite Flying 2

Last night on Twitter, this topic created a very interesting debate, with some saying fasting is part of our culture and religion and therefore should be done, while others were saying it is an outdated tradition which we should not be conformed to, and then there were those that just love food too much to give it up!

I can understand all points of view on this topic. I have done the full fast before (including the little rules about no oil, and fish on certain days etc) and although I accomplished the challenge, it made me very sick. Many people are known to have fainted during the fast, as well. You might ask why put yourself through that, but isn't that the whole point? You're meant to suffer like Jesus did before he died for us. It also cleanses your body physically and spiritually.

If you are turning your nose up at all this 'religious mumbo jumbo', then I have to question whether you are a true Greek?! How can you not love God if you are a true Greek? It is a similar concept to the comments I made about marrying non Greeks, here. It is our values and traditions that make us who we are, that are slowly being lost as the generations go on as people conform to the 'modern world', which I personally find very sad. Why should we lose our values just because it's 2011 and the rest of the world is behaving in a different way?

Having said that, I do understand the other side of the argument too, and no one is saying you have to do the full fast like the old school Greeks, but I believe you should be doing something to show your respect to God during this time. Easter is the most holy time of year for Greeks, after all. Why not give up something which is important to you for the 40 days? It should be something which is a challenge though, otherwise it defeats the purpose...! Or why not just do the fast for the last week? It's better than nothing!

We joke about loving food and meat, which is true, but the true Greeks that I know are so much more disciplined and respectful that they are willing to give up the things they love so much, during this time. Plus, think about the massive, humongous meat feast you get to have at Easter! Won't it be that much better if you've been fasting before hand?!

Ribs n Stuff

Either way, it is a personal choice and you have to do what feels right for you. I hope there is the desire in your heart to do something to keep our values and traditions alive, even if it something small. I find it sad that people can just ignore it, when it has such a significant meaning to Greeks.

So, are you fasting this Easter? If not, why and what are you thinking of doing instead, if anything?

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