The Greek tradition of Kyra Sarakosti (“Lady Lent” in English) is a great activity for children to count down the weeks of Lent. This excerpt from The Festive Fast Cookbook explains the details of this custom:
…[W]hen there were no calendars and people wanted to have some sense of time during Great Lent (before Easter), 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 a shape of a woman. Kyra Sarakosti does not have a mouth as she is fasting: her hands are crossed in prayer. She has seven feet for the seven weeks of Great Lent [including Holy Week]. Every Saturday one of her feet is cut. The last foot to be cut on Holy Saturday is folded and placed in a dried fig or nut and whoever finds it is considered to be lucky. (G.A. Mega, Greek Feasts)
- 2-2 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup salt
- 2-2 1/2 tsps cinnamon
- water as needed
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine flour, salt and cinnamon in medium size bowl.
3. Gradually add water (about a teaspoon at a time) to form a stiff but flexible dough.
4. On a floured surface, roll dough out to approximately 1/2 inch thickness.
5. Use the sharp point of a knife to shape your Kyra Sarakosti like the picture.
- A paper template is helpful — you can draw your own or use this one.
- Cut two long narrow strips for arms and join them at shoulders (wet the shoulder area on the body to attach the arms).
- Make slits in dough for fingers.
- Mark closed eyelids and noise with pointed object. (Remember — Lady Lent has no mouth!)
- Carefully and patiently cut out the seven feet hanging out.
6. Wipe entire figure down with a lightly dampened cloth to make shiny.
7. Bake until golden. Some may sort of bubble but will flatten out as they cool.
8. Cool on a baking rack
9. Break of a leg each Saturday through Holy Saturday.
Note: Do NOT eat!
This recipe is adapted from The Festive Fast Cookbook translated from the Greek by M. Kokkinou and G. Kofinas.