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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.