Have you noticed a preponderance of kites lining store shelves and soaring in the skies of Cyprus lately? It’s a harbinger of Spring and, more specifically, the beginning of Lent. Lent begins with the celebration of Green Monday, which this year fell on 2 March. Following immediately after the close of the gluttonous carnival season, Green Monday celebrates the beginning of the 40 days of fasting leading up to Easter. Families and friends gather at parks, meadows, and beaches for an afternoon together. The centrepiece of the celebration is the Green Monday picnic. Since many observers abstain from meat, eggs, and dairy products during the Lenten season, the menu is rich in vegetarian dishes. A bread called ‘lagana’ is made specially for the holiday; it is enjoyed with dips (tahini, hummus, taramosalata), olives, and fresh vegetables. You might also find octopus or shellfish on the menu. Aside from eating, the main activity is flying kites. In olden days, the kites were crafted from wood, paper, and string in local workshops. Nowadays, you will see mostly store-bought kites plying the winds—but look closely for some handmade decorations. Many localities organise kite-flying competitions, with the aim being to create a colourful spectacle and see whose kite reaches the highest altitude. While kite-flying is a good way to enjoy the first balmy breezes of Spring, it also carries religious symbolism on Green Monday: the kite represents the soul yearning to be near God. The highest kite is closest to heaven.