Great Lent Lady
This salt dough figure "depicts Kyra Sarakosti. Sarakosti is the Greek name for the 40 days of Lent before the feasts of Christmas and Easter. Kyra, of course, in Greek stands for "lady". . . it is natural that Sarakosti goes by so slowly for those who are fasting as they hurry to reach the end. For this reason, when 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 off. The last foot to be cut off 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
To make a non-edible Kyra-Sarakosti
2-2½ cups flour
½ cup salt
2-2½ teaspoons cinnamon
water, as much as needed
- Combine flour, salt and cinnamon in medium size bowl; gradually add enough water to form a stiff, but flexible dough.
- On a floured surface, roll dough about ½-inch thick.
- With a sharp knife cut out the figure as shown in the picture (you may want to make a paper template).
- Cut out two long narrow strips for arms and join at shoulders; wet surface to attach arms.
- Cut out the seven feet.
- Make slits in dough for fingers.
- Mark closed eyelids and nose with a knife point (remember no mouth!).
- Lightly dampen figure so she bakes with a shiny finish.
- Bake in moderate oven (350°) until golden.
- Break off one foot each Saturday or Sunday during Great Lent, the last foot coming off on Holy Saturday.
- Remember figure is not edible.
Kyra Sarakosti, no mouth has she,
she neither talks nor eats.
She has no ears, she does not hear
gossip or idle speech.
Upon her chest, her crossed hands rest,
all day Christ she entreats.
And seven feet, no more, no less,
has she to count the weeks.
Each Saturday we cut away
one of her seven feet.
The last we hide some lace inside
some fruit or nuts or treats.
The one who finds <<το τυΧερο>>*
receives good luck in heaps!
* the lucky
To make an edible figure, use any of the recipes for St. Nicholas traditional spice cookies, the Vegan Speculaas is appropriate for Great Lent.
A Google image search shows lots of Kyra Sarakosti images—lots of ideas and different ways of making her.
Adapted from The Festive Fast: Greek Meatless Cooking in the Eastern Orthodox Tradition, by Marigoula Kokkinou and Georgia Kofinas, Akritas Publications, 1991. 372 Greek meatless recipes especially for Great Lent.
Purchase from amazon.com or other secondary market sources.
Poem from the Orthodox Mom