Yesterday, Monday 2nd March, was Green Monday, the first day of lent for the Greek Orthodox church. It’s also a public holiday in Cyprus and is celebrated outdoors with kite flying and a picnic of foods such as vegetables, fruit and salad.
Green Monday is a fun day for most, but it also marks the beginning of the countdown to Easter and so for many traditionalists it’s a period of fasting. To this end meat and dairy foods are traditionally not eaten on Green Monday or for the next 40 days of lent.
Not being in the Greek Orthodox church, or a follower of any religion, it’s never impacted me. Except once, last year, just before Easter, when I bought a precooked chicken from our local supermarket. The poor lady at the cash-out was practically drooling over it.
“You’re going to enjoy that, aren’t you?”
“I am,” I said, with a smile. “Maybe you should get one yourself when you leave work,” I added, a little too flippantly. Because it turns out she was fasting and was following it to the letter. Those forty days working in shop selling the food she couldn’t eat must have been torture for the poor woman.
I was also surprised to discover early on in my journey as an expat in Cyprus that after the 40 days of fasting, some people go a little crazy and eat and drink and be merry to great excess. So much so the hospitals quite often see an influx of cases where the patient has over-eaten.
I often wonder why people put themselves through such torture for a religious belief. But, who am I to query another person’s beliefs. I’m just glad I was never made to believe in any religion as a child.
Copyright © Tom Kane 2020
Living in Cyprus as an English expat for 12 years now has been a journey of discovery, happiness, sadness and sometimes it’s been a little scary. Here’s my story.