Kathara Deftera – Fasting before Easter begins!
“Kathara Deftera” is the Monday six weeks before Holly Monday and it signals the beginning of fasting for religious people. We fast to prepare our soul and body for the Holy Week and the Resurrection of the Lord.
“Kathara Deftera” is usually in early spring and people traditionally pack their picnic baskets and head out in the countryside to begin fasting with family and friends. On this day, we venture out to the spring green fields, which are dotted with colorful wild flowers, to the beaches and to the forest picnic sites to reconnect with nature. We spread our picnic blankets under the blue sky and the bright sun and relax, socialize and play games.
This beautiful custom actually has its roots in the ancient Greek festival of Anthesphoria, featuring flowers and music. This important ancient religious holiday celebrated Persephone’s return from the underworld back to earth and the beginning of spring.
Fasting delicacies of the day include black and green olives, boiled potatoes, beetroot, preserved fish roe (taramosalata), tahini and pickles. Also, all kinds of fresh vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, as well as green salads such as rocket, coriander, celery, sweet pea. We also eat grilled cuttlefish and octopus, as well as white beans cooked in tomato sauce. Special types of bread, dachtilies and laganes, are an essential part of the feast. Sweets include kataifi, tahinopitta and halvas. Red wine flowing abundantly complements the fasting feast!
Integral part of the “Kathara Deftera” fun is Kite flying. Why do we fly kites on “Kathara Deftera”? The kite symbolizes our soul that soars to heaven to be closer to God. Above the blooming spring fields, skies fill with colorful kites of all shapes and sizes. There will be an informal competition about who will fly his kite higher. All for a good fun.
Should you find yourself on our beautiful island, do not miss this outing and join us out in the fields.
Hades, the ruler of the Underworld, decided that he wanted to marry Persephone, his Sister Demeter’s only daughter. One day, as she was gathering flowers the ground below her feet opened up and Hades snatched her and took her with him to the Underworld, to be his wife and queen. Demeter distraught by the loss of the daughter neglected all her duties as the goddess of agriculture and fertility. As a result, the earth became barren and people were dying of famine.
Seeing no way out of it, Zeus sent Hermes to the Underworld to fetch Persephone back to her mother. However, Persephone tricked by Hades and tasted one pomegranate seed before leaving the Underworld. This, according to the ancient laws, obliged her to remain in the Underworld. Seeing no way out Zeus proposed a compromise: Persephone would spend two-thirds of the year with her mother and one-third with her new husband.