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Sarakosti (Lent)

The practice of fasting during Sarakosti is known as 'nisteia', and is observed with varying degrees of strictness, the most extreme involving even abstinence from oil, as well as from meat, dairy, and wine. Sexual relations were also included in the list of prohibited substances and activities.

Many people in modern times fast only during Megali Evdhomadha (literally, Great Week), which is the week before Pascha (Easter Sunday), finding it too stressful to fast during the entire six weeks. In older times, when printed calendars were unavailable to many villagers, many who observed a long and strict fast followed a custom for calculating the passing of the long stressful weeks of abstinence.

A figure of a woman, who was designated Kyra Sarakosti (Lady Sarakosti/Lent) was cut out of sheet of paper. She had no mouth (because she never ate), her hands joined together in prayer, and at the bottom of her long skirt seven little feet projected, one for each of the weeks of fasting. Every Saturday one foot was cut off, the last one on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday, this last foot inserted into a dry fig or a walnut, bringing luck to the finder.