The lagana is unleavened bread, that is, bread made without yeast, and in Greece it is traditionally baked on only one day of the year: Ash Monday. Its name derives from the ancient Greek word “laganon”, a bread dough prepared from flour and water that marks the beginning of the Lenten fast.
Many ancient texts make reference to lagana, one of them being the “Assembly Women” Greek: Ἐκκλησιάζουσαι Ekklesiazousai; also translated as, Congresswomen, Women in Parliament, Women in Power, and A Parliament of Women) of Aristophanes, where the ancient Greek phrase “lagana petete” is found, meaning “the making of lagana”.
One theory proposes that lagana is linked to the bread that the Israelites consumed during their exodus from Egypt.
The lagana is perhaps the hallmark of Ash Monday. Unlike most other businesses, bakeries are open on that day exclusively for the purpose of baking lagana and making it available to the public.
There are many recipes for making lagana, using a variety of raw materials. Its basic ingredients, however, are flour and sesame seed.