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Clean Monday’s returning Athenians March 12, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Culture, Greek Culture Heritage, Special Features.
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Traffic clogs major highways as thousands return after holiday

Traffic police yesterday afternoon set up diversions at various junctions on the national road network in a bid to alleviate heavy congestion caused by hundreds of thousands of citizens returning to their hometowns after the long weekend. 

11-03-08_clean_monday.jpg  Clean Monday celebrations > People dressed up in colorful costumes across Greece over the weekend as Carnival season celebrations wound up yesterday on Clean Monday or Kathara Deftera in Greek, the first day of Lent. The Athens City Council held different festivities in central parts of the capital as the sunny weather helped guarantee a good turnout. Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis celebrated on Philoppapou Hill, close to the Acropolis, where thousands of Athenians attended.

11-03-08_kite_acropolis.jpg  Typical on Clean Monday is the kite flying.

Flour warriors rise to the occasion > A flour war in which participants throw bags of the foodstuff at each other has taken place in Galaxidi, Greece.

The event in the coastal town of Galaxidi, 200 kilometres west of Athens, is one of the most popular traditions in the country. The first day of Orthodox Lent is called Clean Monday, and in Galaxidi they celebrate its end with a street battle where flour tinted with food colouring is used as ammunition.

12-03-08_galaxidi.jpg  Participants come from across Greece, some donning goggles and plastic suits in an attempt to avoid getting covered in the sticky mess. The neoclassical houses are protected with plastic sheeting, and locals spend days afterwards trying to clean the streets.

According to legend the ritual began in 1801 when the townspeople painted their faces with ash and danced through the streets, celebrating the carnival in defiance of their Ottoman rulers.

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