AHEPA Chapter 455 hosted the annual Kathara Deftera celebration, left to right: President Michael Tribunella, AHEPA District 6 Governor Dean Moskos, Treasurer Demetre Karavanas, Vice President Dimitrios Misantonis, Parish Council President John Fellas, and Secretary Alexandros Tsironis. Photo: Kyriakos Laz Photography
WEST NYACK, NY – Kathara Deftera (or Clean Monday) marks the beginning of Lent, a period of spiritual purification in preparation for the solemnity of Orthodox Easter, and kites have been an essential part of celebrations for more than a century in Greece. The custom of flying kites on Clean Monday is directly linked to the spiritual state of mind of Orthodox Christians.
Scholars have found evidence of Easter-season kite-flying in Europe as far back as the 17th century. For many religious Greeks, it signifies a desire to reach for the divine. It has thus been deeply rooted in Orthodox Christian tradition as it symbolizes 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.
Clean Monday is also celebrated with Lagana bread, a special type of flatbread that is only prepared and eaten on Clean Monday throughout Greece.
These traditions were celebrated on March 6 in West Nyack, a community 20 minutes north of New York City, on a large open field on the grounds of Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church. The kite flying afternoon and luncheon were sponsored by AHEPA Chapter #455 and began with the distribution of Laganes to parish families followed by a traditional (nistisimo) fasting Luncheon, and, of course, a lot of kite-flying.
This year, the chapter was honored to be visited by District 6 Governor Brother Dean Moskos and his lovely family, along with Saint Basil Academy Director of Program Development Lauren Biniaris and the children of St. Basil Academy. With the children of the Sts. Constantine and Helen’s parish and the children of St. Basil Academy, the event turned out to be an exciting and fun moment for the community. Everybody laughed, ate, drank, put together their kites and ran out to fly them. What started out as a cloudy, rainy day, ended up being breezy, warm, and sunny, which was just perfect for kids running outside and flying their kites to the heavens.
AHEPA Chapter President Michael Tribunella said: “As an organization, we are responsible for promoting Hellenism, our great Greek culture, traditions, and more importantly, our religion. It is very important that we keep all of these alive for our children and the future generations of the diaspora. We can never forget what ties us to our heritage and religion.” Kali Sarakosti!
PHILADELPHIA – The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Philadelphia and Greater Delaware Valley announced that the Evzones, the Presidential Guard of Greece will be participating in the Philadelphia Greek Independence Day Parade on March 20.
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