Kyra Sarakosti

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Last Monday some ladies at our parish baked  our annual Kyra Sarakosti, or Lady Lent, “cookies”.

 ­ ‘LADY LENT’: AN OLD GREEK EASTER TRADITION

An old Greek custom that still survives in modern, Orthodox Christian families throughout Greece with different vari­ ations, is that of Kyra Sarakosti, i.e. Lady Lent. This is a custom associated with the fasting period of Great Lent preceding the Sunday of Pascha; Kyra Sarakosti is used as a calendar that counts the 7 weeks of Lent.

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Kyra Sarakosti, is a small figure, a paper drawing or sometimes baked of bread dough, which features something really unusual, a lady that looks  like  a  nun who has seven legs and her  hands  are folded as if in prayer. Lady Lent’s seven legs, each represent one week of the fasting period, from Clean Monday to the Holy Week. The cross on her forehead is the symbol of her faith. She has her arms folded because indeed she is constantly praying. She has no mouth, not only be­cause she can’t eat, as she is fasting, but also to avoid engaging in any idle talk. Fi­nally, she has no ears, or  they  are  covered with her scarf, so as not to listen to any calumny or judging, especially in this period of rigorous ascetic effort.

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Lady Lent has been used as a “calen­dar” of Lent all over the country. Each week, starting on Saturday after Clean Monday, the faithful would cut  one  leg  off. The last leg would be cut off on Holy Saturday. In some areas, the seventh leg was squeezed inside the bread of Resur­rection, and was considered to bring blessing to whoever found it.

 

Recipe: Orthodox Mum

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