By Alicia Reese
March 7, 2023
I am always appreciative of the opportunity to learn about rituals and traditions of fellow Christians from different cultures around the world. It reminds me that I am just a small part of one branch of a global, cross-cultural religion. Our Christian family tree has deep roots, many branches, traditions, and denominations. We may differ in our theologies and practices, but we have all come to know the same God. And we all honor and nurture our relationships with God in different ways. Learning about one another’s traditions, rituals, and practices is an invitation to deepen our own understanding and relationship with God as well as appreciate the diverse global family of faith we are a part of.
Do you know Lady Lent? Just today, I was delighted to learn about her, a figure from the Greek Orthodox faith and culture.
Lady Lent (Kyra Sarakosti / Κυρά Σαρακοστή) is an old Greek custom affiliated with Lent. Kyra, in Greek means "lady" and sarakosti, is “the 40-day fasting period” of Lent.
When there were no calendars and people wanted to have some sense of time during the long season of Lent, they devised an easy method of doing this. They drew up an image of Sarakosti as a nun. They took a piece of paper and cut out the shape of a woman. Kyra-Sarakosti does not have a mouth, as she is fasting, her hands are crossed in prayer, and she has seven feet, one for each of the weeks in Lent, including Holy Week. Every Saturday one of her feet is removed. The last foot is cut off on Holy Saturday and traditionally is placed in a dried fig or nut and whoever finds it is considered to be lucky.
There is even a lovely little Lady Lent poem: