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Kyra Sarakosti or Lady Lent: the peculiar Easter calendar!

“Lady Lent”, “Kyra Sarakosti” in Greek, comes with the end of the Carnival and remains until Easter.

Lady Lent is a custom that one could find all over Greece and it was a peculiar calendar which was used to count down the weeks of Lent until Easter. Even though Kyra Sarakosti was almost forgotten for many years, nowadays, with the help of the teachers at schools, she has many new friends and she has found again a place in many houses.

This tradition began in the old days to help children (and adults) keeping track of the Lenten period.  She was made in the image of a nun.
Kyra Sarakosti has her hands crossed in prayer. She has no mouth because she fasts, and she doesn’t talk. Also she has no ears because she doesn’t hear.
All this, of course, is a symbolism that has to do with the special character of this period of the year.  The period until Easter is considered as a period of purification through fasting. This is a turn into our inner world in order to purify not just our food but also our bad habits. We do not see, we do not hear and we do not comment on what others are doing; but we turn our attention to our own improvement.
Kyra Sarakosti has seven feet, one for every week of Great Lent. Every Saturday one of her feet is cut off.
The last leg was put in a dry fig or a nut. The one who found it was the lucky one.

In the past, in some regions, Lady Lent was made with dough. They place her high on the wall, with the icons and every Saturday she was taken down in order to cut one more foot.
Completely different was Lady Lent of Pontos (the area of the Black Sea where many ethnic Greeks lived). She was made from a large potato or onion which was hung from the ceiling. To this, people used to connect seven feathers.  Every week they took away one feather and they calculated the remaining weeks until Easter.

Nowadays, our societies have  changed. Kyra Sarakosti is these days just a way for the grown-ups to remember and for the children to learn through the game.


                                          © Lato,
Het Griekse Taal– & CultuurCentrum van Amsterdam

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