Why do Greeks fly kites on Clean Monday?

Why do Greeks fly kites on Clean Monday?

Why do Greeks fly kites on Clean Monday?

Kathara Deftera (Clean Monday) is a day where families and friends celebrate with delicious fasting foods, as well as the widespread custom of flying kites.

Kite flying itself is an ancient tradition, thought to have originated in ancient China.

Throughout the ages, the tradition of flying kites was adopted by other cultures, and new shapes and forms emerged to reflect local legends and customs.

It has thus been deeply rooted in Orthodox Christian tradition as well, as it symbolises the passing of the human soul to Heaven and God, with people in older times even believing that the higher their kite flew, the more possible it would be for their prayers to be heard by God.

The custom of flying kites on Clean Monday is directly linked to the spiritual state of mind of Orthodox Christians.

The first kites that were spotted in Greece in the post-modern era came from the eastern areas and more specifically the Eptanisa, Chios, Samos, until they eventually made their way to the city of Patra and became common all around the country.

Last week, the Greek government announced that parks in cities will remain open on Clean Monday (amid the pandemic) and Greeks are allowed to fly their kites, in a safe manner.

Kite fliers will need permission to leave their homes (sending an SMS to 13033 with the number 6) and are advised to keep safe social distances.

Why do Greeks fly kites on Clean Monday?
How To Make A Kite (including secret tips)-

What you Need:

  • 2 sticks, 60cm and 70cm.
  • Fabric for the sail (100cm wide)
  • Strip of cloth for the tail (1.5m long)
  • Strong tape, such as packing tape or electrical tape
  • Kite string or fishing line
  • Tape measure
  • Scissors
  • Super glue


  1. Make a lowercase T-shape with your sticks. Take the 60cm stick and put it across the 70cm stick so it looks like a lowercase 't'. 
  2. Attach the 2 sticks together and wrap string around the 2 pieces in the middle 5 times. Then, tie the string with a small knot and trim off the excess string.
  3. Make 2.5-5.1 cm horizontal notches at the end of each stick. Use scissors to make 1 notch at the end of each stick. These notches should run horizontally, or across the width of the stick. Make them deep enough to fit the string you are going to use to attach the sail.
  4. Stretch the string around the frame. Loop the string around the top notch on the frame, wrapping it once around the stick. Then, pull the string through the notch on the right end of the frame. Stretch the string to the notch at the bottom end of the frame and then through the left end of the frame. Finally, wrap the string 1-2 times around the top end of the frame. Remove any excess string with scissors. Double-check that the string is taut but not too tight to prevent the sticks from bending or warping.
  5. Use fabric that is 100 cm wide for the sail. You can get creative here.
  6. Lay the frame on the sail. Spread the material you’re using for the sail flat on the ground. Then, place the frame in the centre of the sail.
  7. Outline the frame with a ruler. Place the ruler on the top of the frame and then down the end of the stick on the right side of the frame. Use a pencil to draw a diagonal line from the top end to the end of the stick on the right, using the ruler as a guide. Do this again from the right end to the bottom end of the frame as well as from the bottom end to the left end. Finish by drawing a diagonal line from the left end up to the top end of the frame.
  8. Cut the diamond 5cm wider than the outline.
  9. Fold the edge of the sail over the frame and tape it down. Run a thin line of super glue on the frame and press the edge of the sail on the frame to keep it in place. 
  10. Attach the flying line. Use string that is at least 55 cm long for the flying line. Poke a small hole right above where the 2 sticks meet with scissors. The hole should be big enough to fit the flying line. Then, pull one end of the flying line through the hole and tie it tightly around the cross point.
  11. Make a kite tail with a 1.5m cloth long piece. Attach the tail to the bottom end of the frame, looping it over the frame several times and tying it tightly. 
  12. Decorate the kite. This is the fun part! 
  13. Try flying the kite in a spot with no trees or power lines. Tip: Hold tight to the kite string and run in the direction of the wind. Then, release the kite as you are running, pushing it upward into the wind.
*More on GCT: Kathara Deftera (Clean Monday) 2021
Lagana recipe passed down through generations
GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.