The Monday we are all looking forward to…
We usually complain every Sunday as the following day is Monday. The grumbling continues in the office for the first few hours until we get over the fact that the week has begun and start counting down to Friday again.
There is one Monday a year, however, that we all look forward to; Green Monday. The day that if the weather permits, we either go out to the yard, or to the nearest field or neighbourhood park to fly kites, eat and drink, and be kids again for a while.
However, beyond the countryside excursions, kite- flying and traditional games, Green Monday, the first day of the Great Lent, is an opportunity for us to stop overeating and consuming fatty foods, and cleanse our body and soul. You have surely heard of the phrase “we will cut Lent’s nose”, which is related to the meaning of the day. Lent must not have a nose so as to avoid smelling bad foods, meaning fatty foods, and remain loyal during the lengthy fast that follows.
Preparations for the Green Monday spread usually begin from the previous day, by purchasing all necessary ingredients, such as tarama, tahini, olives, vegetables, seafood, olive pies, and continues on the same day, when we get freshly baked simits (Greek koulouri) and laganas (Greek flatbread).
The traditional lagana custom has a leading role in the fasting spread of Green Monday and its roots can be traced back to ancient times, as there are references to lagana even in “Assemblywomen” by Aristophanes. Another theory has Israelis consuming laganas on their way out of Egypt under Moses’ guidance and the Mosaic Law imposing its consumption on all days of Easter.
This flatbread, sprinkled with plenty of sesame, has not only managed to survive to this day, but in fact, lagana is so popular that Green Monday would just not be the same without its smell or taste. So, on Green Monday morning, our first task is to get fresh laganas and simits just out of the oven, even if that requires waiting in a long queue. For laganas, we will be patient!