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March 11, 2019

"Meatfare Has Passed, Gone Also Is Cheesefare" (Greek folk songs to welcome Great Lent)

"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Matthew 6:16-18)

In the Greek tradition, one of the strictest fasting days of the year, Clean Monday, is also a day of festivity, where families eat a fasting-appropriate meal together and go fly a kite, among other things. Among these other things are singing special folk songs to welcome in the period of Great Lent. Many of these customs and songs are being forgotten by younger generations, being replaced by newer customs and the modern way of life. One of the traditional songs sung on Clean Monday comes from the region of Megara in Attica, called "Meatfare Has Passed." Another song included here is called "Now is Holy Lent" which comes to us from Asia Minor. Both come with a rough translation, and can be heard back to back in the video below.

Περάσαν οι Αποκριές
(Μέγαρα Αττικής)

Περάσαν οι Αποκριές, πάνε κι οι Τυρινάδες
μας ήρθε η, αμάν, αμάν, μας ήρθε η Σαρακοστή,
μας ήρθε η Σαρακοστή με τις εφτά βδομάδες.

Έλα μ’ εδώ, δεν έρχομαι
είμαι μικρό και ντρέπομαι.

Καλώς τη τη Σαρακοστή με σκόρδα με μαρούλια,
καλώς τη και την Άνοιξη με τα πολλά λελούδια.

Σένα τα λέω κι άκου τα,
πάρε χαρτί και γράφε τα.

Οι Αποκριές περάσανε, τι άλλο καρτερούμε,
περικαλέστε το Θεό καλή Λαμπρή να δούμε.

Έλα να πάμ’ εκεί που λες,
που κάνουν τα πουλιά φωλιές.

Έλα μ’ εδώ μικρούλα μου
να γιάνεις την καρδούλα μου.

Meatfare Has Passed
(Megara of Attica)

Meatfare Has Passed, Gone Also Is Cheesefare
Aman, aman* has come to us, Lent has come to us,
Lent has come to us with its seven weeks.

Come to me, I'm not coming
I am young and shy.

Welcome Lent with garlic and lettuce,
Welcome to the aman, aman, welcome to the Spring,
Welcome also Spring with the many flowers.

I say this to you and listen,
Take paper and write it down.

Meatfare has passed, what else are we waiting for,
Entreat with the aman, aman, entreat God,
Entreat God that we may see a good Bright day.*

Let us go to the place you spoke of,
Where birds make their nests.

Come here my young one,
To heal my heart.

Τώρα ν άγια Σαρακοστή
(Μικρά Ασία)

Tώρα ’ν’ αγιά Σαρακοστή, τώρα ’ν’ άγιες ημέρες,
που λειτουργούν οι εκκλησιές και ψέλνουν οι παπάδες
και λένε τ’ άγιος ο Θεός και τ’ άγιο Eυαγγέλιο.
Όποιος το λέει σώνεται κι όποιος τ’ ακούει αγιάζει
κι όποιος το καλοφουγκραστεί παράδεισο θα λάβει.

Now is Holy Lent
(Asia Minor)

Now is Holy Lent, now are the holy days,
when the churches liturgize and the priests chant
and say the Holy God and the Holy Gospel.
Whoever says it is saved and whoever hears it is sanctified
and whoever hearkens well will receive paradise.


* Aman is a Turkish word hard to translate, that could be a mild expression of joy or disappointment or surprise, such as wow, oh man, oh boy, oh no, gosh, blimey, my God, for God's sake.

** Lambri (Λαμπρή) is roughly translated as "Bright day", which refers to Easter.