Ash Monday also known as Pure Monday, Clean Monday, Monday of Lent or Green Monday, is the first-day of Great Lent throughout Eastern Christianity and is a moveable feast, falling on the 7th Monday before Pascha.
The common term for this day, “Ash Monday”, refers to the leaving behind of sinful attitudes and non-fasting foods. It is sometimes called “Ash Monday”, by analogy with Ash Wednesday. Liturgically, on Clean Monday—and Lent itself—at which all present will bow down before one another and ask forgiveness. In this way, the faithful begin Lent with a clean conscience, with forgiveness, and with renewed Christian love. The entire first week of Great Lent is often referred to as “Clean Week”, and it is customary to go to Confession during this week, and to clean the house thoroughly. (Symbolizing that all kinds of impure materialistic and non-materialistic objects causing a hindrance to our faithful service to God are erased from our living environment)
The theme of Clean Monday is set by the Old Testament reading appointed to be read at the Sixth Hour on this day (Isaiah 1:1–20), which says, in part:
“ 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 ”
You see that in the book Daniel in the nine chapter there’s a line about associating fasting with ashes, so ashes are associated with penance, which is the dominant theme of Lent.The cross is a nod to the Biblical passage “For dust you are and to dust, you shall return”
Traditions of Clean Monday (Eastern Europe)
Clean Monday, is considered to be one of the most important feasts all over Greece, however, is not only associated with eating fasting products but features also many traditions being held all over Greece. Traditionally, as Clean Monday is considered to mark the beginning of the spring season, kite flying is also part of the tradition. Young people and adults organize excursions to open areas, so as to fill the skies with their kites.Apart from kite flying, many areas in Greece maintain their own regional customs. In Thebes, an old custom dating from 1830, called the “Vlach Wedding,” — in reference to the matchmaking of the time — is revived each year, with all participants joining the festivities with satirical songs and lots of dancing.
The Mar Thoma Nasranis of India-Syro-Malabar Catholic Church are notable amongst the Eastern rites that employ the use of ashes on this day.
Why Ash Monday?
On this Ash Monday, let us pledge to purify ourselves not only from the impurities world lead us, but from impurities our soul practices unintentionally. Easter is a season of Hope for Christians. It is an assurance that every crucifixion ends in resurrection. Ash Monday embarks the commencement of the observance of this hopeful season. So if we wish to be resurrected let us willingly accept crucifixion.
Your countdown to the Holy Days begins now…
Written by: Rosemary