Ash Monday in Rethymno

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Carnival celebration ends Ash Monday on the 11th of March, the day after the Grand Parade, and is characterized by the abundance of Lenten traditional foods, spectacular kite flying and the revival of traditional ancient Cretan customs.

On Ash Monday we celebrate the most significant custom, “Koulouma.” This derives from the Latin word “cumulus” which in essence means abundance. Thus, according to the tradition signifies the end of Carnival and the beginning of Lent. Actually, it is more a corporal and spiritual symbolism of “purification,” as people leave behind sinful attitudes and decadent foods and begin to prepare their bodies and souls for the Orthodox Easter.

Based on the Greek Orthodox monks’ fast, which lasts 40 days, the foods that are consumed consist mainly of seafood and legumes. Hearty foods, such as bean soup, fish roe salad, “Lagana” bread and “Halvas” desert are highly-recommended and a superb culinary experience for foodies. In Rethymno, every year festivities are celebrated in every village and town, where an abundance of unique dishes are offered to all visitors. This year, in close proximity to Rethymno, at Roussospiti (10:00 a.m.) and at Perivolia (12:30 p.m.), the traditional Koulouma will be celebrated by a series of festival events and Cretan fasting foods.

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One of the most visually appealing and spectacular customs on Ash Monday is kite flying. Families take to the spring countryside and the sun-drenched sky fills with a plethora of colorful kites in a frenzy of color and shapes to welcome the spring, giving joy to children and grown-ups of all ages. Enjoy a farm to table picnic and share the unique musicality of traditional Cretan music!


In Gerani, (10:00 a.m.) the competition of the kites will take place. Dozens of kites set free in the sky across the sea, at Kamari Beach. Later, (12:30 p.m.), begins the celebration of the camel. The revival of this custom has taken place for some years now in many areas. The custom of the camel was born from the curiosity and admiration of the people about the “newcomer” animal introduced to Crete by the Arab conquerors.

            Choosing Rethymno during the Carnival will guarantee an unforgettable experience that will beckon you back year after year!