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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Greece Series at GreekPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Greek holidays and observances. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 7- “Great Lent.” In Greek, it's called [Σαρακοστή]
"Lent," or the "Great Lent", is a forty-day Christian period of fasting. It originally lasted six weeks, starting on Clean Monday or [Καθαρά Δευτέρα]. This period began right after the end of the Carnival period, which occurs 48 days before Easter, and ended on the Friday of the sixth week, before Palm Sunday or [Κυριακή των Βαΐων]. Today, however, the Holy Week that follows is also included, making Lent span a total of seven weeks.
In this lesson, you will learn about the customs of Lent in Greece.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
What is the meaning of the famous folk expression, "Is March missing from Lent?" or in Greek [Λείπει ο Μάρτης από τη Σαρακοστή;]?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Lent or [Σαρακοστή] is also called the Great Lent or [Μεγάλη Τεσσαρακοστή]. Here, [Μεγάλη] means "Great", but it's called that not because it lasts a long time, but because it bears a great meaning for Christians as a period of remembering Christ’s forty-day fast in the desert, through which He prepared for His Resurrection, or in Greek [Ανάσταση]. Due to modern lifestyles, many people no longer fast. In place of fasting, they refrain from consuming foods and drinks that include meat, fish, alcohol, dairy products, and eggs. Oil is also not consumed, except during the weekends, when eating bloodless seafood such as squid, cuttlefish, octopus, shellfish, and salted and cured cod roe or in Greek [ταραμάς], is allowed.
Greeks have created a wide variety of dishes that meet the restrictions of Lent. These fasting foods are called [σαρακοστιανά], or "lenten", and are delicious and nutritious. Even some well-known international fast food chains adapt their menus to include lenten options during this period. Most recipes include legumes, fruits, vegetables, potatoes, rice, pickles, olives and the seafood I mentioned earlier. Oil-free baked goods and halva made from semolina or tahini are also very popular, the most famous of which comes from a shop called [Κοσμίδης] in the area of [Δραπετσώνα].
A special lenten custom called "Lady Lent," or [κυρα-Σαρακοστή], comes from the Byzantine years, as a result of there being no calendars during this period. “Lady Lent” is a drawing depicting a seven-legged, mouthless woman with a cross on her head and her hands crossed in a prayer. She has no mouth to symbolize her fast, and her seven legs represent the seven weeks of Lent. Very often, she is made out of dough instead of being drawn on a piece of paper. Each Saturday of Lent, one of her legs is cut off, counting down the weeks of fast that remain until Easter.
The last leg of Lady Lent is cut off on the Great and Holy Saturday, or [Μεγάλο Σάββατο]. This leg gets folded and hidden inside a dried fig or walnut in Chios, which is then placed among others. Whoever finds the walnut or fig containing the leg becomes the lucky person of the next year!
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What is the meaning of the famous folk expression "Is March missing from Lent?" or in Greek [Λείπει ο Μάρτης από τη Σαρακοστή;]?
Because Lent always includes days that fall in the month of March, this expression is used to mock people who like to participate in everything that goes on. In other words, the phrase teases those who are never absent from celebrations, festivals, and other social events.
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
How do you celebrate Lent in your country?
Leave us your comments on GreekPod101.com, and we'll see you in the next lesson.


Please to leave a comment.
😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

GreekPod101.com Verified
Monday at 06:30 PM
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How do you celebrate Lent in your country?

GreekPod101.com Verified
Saturday at 06:37 AM
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Hi George!

Thank you for the lovely message :)

Stay safe and have a great day as well!


Team GreekPod101.com

George W
Friday at 07:48 AM
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Thanks Stefania!

Yes, my mind gets tied in knots trying to think like a Greek! Too many years thinking like an American. Hmmm, maybe that is reason enough to study Greek.

By the way I often think of you when I am reading my Greek New Testament as I come across your name or a variation thereof. Such as the word Stefani.

I also see my name often as well, The farmer, the landowner, the husbandman, etc.

Thanks and have a great day! Stay safe where ever you are..

GreekPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 04:22 AM
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Hi George,

Hahahaha! Your comments made my day, really! I liked the way you think. I bet you'd be fun in any grade!

So... I'll explain this expression "Λείπει ο Μάρτης από τη Σαρακοστή;"

The Lent period varies in terms of dates but it always includes some days that fall in March. So part March is always a part of Lent.

When we say this to someone it's like this person is "March" but for a certain event (like a party or any social gathering)... They will always be there! I must say free food is a very good reason to not miss such events, haha! 😄

All the best,


Team GreekPod101.com

George W
Wednesday at 12:07 PM
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Ok, I think I understand. It mocks the person who shows up for everything during Lent? But why should he not show up? Is there food? If so I would be there! And why IS March missing?

Aren't you glad you didn't have me in 5th grade class?! haha

George W
Wednesday at 11:59 AM
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I don't get it, why is March missing from Lent. The guy came to the party; what did he do wrong?