Tuesday, 7 March 2006

Kathari Devtera

Yesterday it was Kathari Devtera in Greece. A national holiday that stands for the end of the Apokries (carnival) and the start of lent. When you already know a little bit about Greece you know that the Greek and Catholic/Protestant Easters are not on the same day because the Orthodox Church still maintains another calendar (Julian). So being a Catholic you can celebrate Easter twice here. Although two years ago you were not lucky, then the two Easters were on the same day. This year the Orthodox Easter is one week later than the Catholic one and so is the carnival.

There was nothing like a big carnival in Molyvos this year. The 'Harbour Street' was still a heap of ruins and the mayor decided that the street was not worth it to have a carnival procession on Kathari Devtera, a procession that was so nice last year. The procession was cancelled and many people were angry. On Monday there was a sad celebration down at the square near the day nursery with curious people who were attracted by some market stalls which had free food and drinks and a lot of plastic toys for the children. A real carnival spirit was not amongst them.

Carnival in Molyvos seems more a party for children. In the day nurseries and the schools the children had disguise-parties and on Saturday night there was a big party at Hotel Sunrise where fire crackers and lemonade made the childrens hearts beat faster. In the night the adults could go to the Music Bar were a full room and plenty of alcohol took care of a real Greek night.

On Kathari Devtera, Clean Monday, there is a lot to be done except real cleaning. You are supposed to clean your body and spirit and therefore the people go out to the country, to have a picnic or to fly kites. Many people from Mytilini on that day go to the North of the island and Kathari Devtera is therefore the busiest day of the year in Eftalou. Although flying kites is still popular - most of them do that in the castle of Molyvos, others prefer the sea wind in Eftalou - going for a picnic is not much seen anymore. People prefer to have dinner at a table. So the restaurants Manoli's and Anatoli were overcrowded and the Eftalou Boulevard looked like a bright day at Brighton.

Saturday and Sunday the Greeks ate enormous amounts of meat because from the day of Kathari Devtera enjoying meat is over. You are supposed not to eat meat or other products like eggs and milk from animals (and fishes) with blood. In the Greek kitchen there remains enough good dishes to be eaten. It is the time that much octopus is devored, as well as shrimps and shell fish. Tarama, a paste from fish eggs, potatoes and olive oil is a particularly popular lent-dish. Not only during lent but for the whole winter long the Greeks eat a lot of beans. Especially white beans and fava. Fava is a paste from mashed green peas (green fava) or from mashed chick peas (yellow fava) and with a good splash of olive oil and some raw slices of onion it is one of my favourite winter dishes. Chorta (wild salad), salads with thin sliced white cabbage as well as the spanakopitas are all very popular on Kathari Devtera.

The coming weeks the lambs are fattened and I bought a lot of lamb because until Easter that meat is rare to be found in the shops. On Kathari Devtera we were not quite in the mood to go down to the village. Without a procession and only free food it did not appeal to us. And we had plenty to do with a bunch of donkeys who also came to Eftalou and who loved our really green grass. We had to chase them many times, but you know how stubborn donkeys can be. Especially when they see juicy chorta. They really were in a mood for partying, but finally we got them out and they went in the direction of the restaurants. Maybe they were lucky and found themselves a space on the crowded terraces...

As opposed to the mayor of Molyvos the weather gods really did what they could for the carnival. On Monday night the good warm weather stopped and the heavens opened to let the rain pour down. For Wednesday they even predict snow! The sober weather goes along with the lent, although I do hope that it will not last 7 weeks. Lesvos is known to have the most hours of sunshine and I am sure that in the coming weeks the island will not be that sparing with sun hours. The countdown for Easter has started. As well as for the new season. It is nearly summer...

Copyright © Smitaki 2006

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