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Clean Monday – on a picnic in the hills and woods of the city

16 March 2013 / 19:03:25  GRReporter
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Since nowadays low-cost entertainment is more suitable, and Clean Monday is a day on which Greeks traditionally go out to eat and drink, you can spread out a tablecloth, enjoy the sun and the beauty of nature and fly a kite.

A few words about this "clean" day

The fact that the day is characterised as "Clean Monday" is evidence of the purification that follows the 

bacchanalias associated with the celebration of the first Sunday before Lent. From a religious point of view, on this day and throughout the Long Lent people purify their body and soul through fasting and abstinence. On the other hand, which is also important, the day shows love for nature, when sping begins and flowers bloom.

On this day, there are various traditions and customs in different parts of Greece. In some cities, people "clean" what's left of the food before the first Sunday before Lent, so that the Long Lent can start. Elsewhere, such as in Epirus, people clean their kitchen utensils from grease, until they become shiny, or paint the sidewalks white.

Leave all your problems aside and come out onto the lawns, in gardens and forests, fly a kite and celebrate the day with the tasty food with which you have filled your basket for your picnic.

What to put in your basket?

The food should include vegetable dishes, simple and traditional ones which help us purify our bodies from overeating during the first Sunday before Lent and Tsiknopempti (the Thursday before Lent). Halva, caviar salad, olives, pickles, seafood, beans, tahini - they are always respected. Take everything you might find useful outside and fill your basket. Take a large tablecloth and some cushions. You will also need a few plastic forks, plates and cups. The key thing, however, are vegetable dishes. Fortunately, the majority of vegetable dishes can be prepared as stand-up meals. Pickles are particularly suitable for this day and add colour to your food. Salads with caviar garnish your table and should be accompanied by freshly baked bread.

Fill a bowl with olives, chopped tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, cucumber and other fresh vegetables that you like. Legumes are a very suitable food for the body and are also suitable for fasting. Take a plate of large white beans for your picnic or prepare the traditional salad called "mavromatika" made of small beans with multi-coloured peppers and finely chopped tomatoes.

Instead of your favourite meatballs, you can make exceptional (and suitable for fasting) balls of chickpeas, which are very tasty. A plate of stuffed cabbage is a must for your picnic. Seafood may include squid with spinach or octopus with pasta. Rice with calamari and shrimps, grilled octopus and fried calamari are also good choices with which you can enrich your dinner, and they can be eaten cold.

Dessert can include sesame halva with chocolate, almonds or just plain.

A tip: avoid canned food. Though delicious, there's no reason to buy canned products. All vegetarian dishes are cooked very easily. And because of the crisis, home-made meals will save you money.

Accessories

In addition to food and accessories, you will also need a drink. Seafood and vegetable dishes go well with tsipouro (a kind of brandy) and ouzo. If you like glass get a bottle and ice which can be kept in a classic cooler for hours.

Games are also a good companion for your picnic. Besides the classic kite which you will fly because of the day, you can also take board games with you - chess and backgammon are just a few ideas. You can play with the kids on a rope or with a ball. Do not forget a small radio, so that you will enjoy some music as well.

Where to have your picnic

In Attica, there are a lot of places where you can spread out your tablecloth and the spring is ideal for this purpose. Kalopoula in the municipality of Kesariani is a wonderful place, at the foot of Imitos. There are wooden tables if you want to sit down, as well as a restaurant in case you have forgotten something.

Filopapos Hill is a very popular place, as well as the National Park in the centre of Athens. It may seem strange, but there are many municipal groves in Attica (in Filothei, Galati, Papagou, Psychico, Halandri and Ilioupoli), which are rich in vegetation and there is enough room for games.

Kalitehnoupoli also offers hills with lawns, which are also a good choice for a picnic. After crossing Marathonos Avenue, turn left at the traffic lights towards Kalitehnoupoli, shortly before Rafina and choose your place.

Tags: Clean Monday Long Lent the first Sunday before Lent kites picnic
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