It shouldn’t be surprising that when the church began to split, it’s practices and teachings began to differ, particularly in the celebration of Lent. So let’s take a look at how one Christian tradition begins Lent …
In Eastern Christianity, the first day of Great Lent is Clean Monday, which is two days before Ash Wednesday. It is a day that focuses on setting behind believers sinful attitudes and non-fasting foods. On the Liturgical Calendar, Lent actually begins the night before at a special service called Forgiveness Vespers which features the Ceremony of Mutual Forgiveness. It’s when everyone who is present bows down before one another and asks for forgiveness. This lets them begin Lent with a clean conscience, with forgiveness, and with renewed Christian love. Going to confession and cleaning one’s house thoroughly are also apart of the first week of Lent.
At the 6th hour (which would be 12’o’clock noon) Isaiah 1:1-20 is to be read. Clean Monday is based on theses verses in particular: “Wash yourselves and ye shall be clean; put away the wicked ways from your souls before Mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well. Seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, consider the fatherless, and plead for the widow. Come then, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow; and though they be red like crimson, I will make them white as wool (vv. 16–8).”
Clean Monday happens to be a public holiday in Cyprus and Greece – it has a happy, springtime feeling to it because of Matthew 6:14-21 (which is read on the morning before):
When ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face, that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret… (v. 16-18).
Ash Wednesday is not observed in Eastern Christianity, so that’s how they get Lent started.
Lots of credit goes to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_Monday for giving me the particular info on it – this should be an interesting series!