The First Day of Great Lent, seventh week before Pascha
Although liturgically Great Lent begins the evening before at Forgiveness Vespers, Clean Monday is the first full day of Great Lent.
Full abstention from all food and drink (apart from water) is the goal on this day.
In our Domestic Church we
- pray the Kontakion, & other prayers of the feast
- read Isaiah 1 and Matthew 6
- go to confession
- clean the house thoroughly
- if the weather is nice, go fly kites
We call this Clean Monday because we are striving to leave behind our sinful ways, and the Fast works to purify our bodies, minds, and souls.
In Greece, Clean Monday is a public holiday which is celebrated with outdoor excursions and building & flying kites. This day is also associated with the beginning of Spring, so it is sometimes called Green Monday.
In some parts of Greece, this is a day of singing, dancing, and festivals.
This may seem contrary to the penitence & self-restraint of lent, but
it is the Easternapproach to fasting, in accordance with the Gospel (Matthew 6:14–21) read on the morning before:
When ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face, that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret... (v. 16–18).
By rejoicing even as we sacrifice, we celebrate the fact that "The springtime of the Fast has dawned, the flower of repentance has begun to open." (Aposticha, Vespers on Wednesday of Cheesefare Week. The Lenten Triodion:Supplementary Texts.)
Wash yourselves and ye shall be clean; put away the wicked ways from your souls before Mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well. Seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, consider the fatherless, and plead for the widow. Come then, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow; and though they be red like crimson, I will make them white as wool (Is. 1:16–18).
The First Week of Great Lent, Kontakion, Tone VI —
My soul, my soul, arise! Why are you sleeping? The end is drawing hear, and you will be confounded. Awake, then, and be watchful, that Christ our God may spare you, Who is everywhere present and fills all things.