The Great Lent is the main fast in all historical churches, the purpose of which is to prepare a Christian for the celebration of Easter that is why this period of the liturgical worshipping year is marked with prayers of repentance and remembrance of the death on the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It is established in memory of Jesus Christ who was fasting in the desert for 40 days. This Great Lent begins on March 15 and ends on May 1.
The beginning of the Great Lent is called Clean Monday.
In the second week, it is recommended to spend more time in silence.
The third week is dedicated to Adoration of the Holy Cross. It is to remember the sacrifice in the name of people.
The fourth week is to strengthen your faith. At this time, two big readings of prayer rules are held: of Andrew of Crete canon on Wednesday and the praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Friday.
The fifth week is called the week of palm branches. During this week, the prayer of Mary of Egypt is read, and on Saturday, the miracle of the salvation of Lazarus by Jesus is mentioned at the church service.
The sixth week is called Palm Week. At this time, the Lord’s entrance to Jerusalem is mentioned and glorified.
The seventh week called the Passion Week has a special meaning for believers. The remember sufferings of Jesus Christ before execution and the miracle of Resurrection.
Rules of observance of the Great Lent
- It is necessary to confess and commune before fasting;
- It is not allowed to eat products of animal origin;
- Alcohol and smoking are is also prohibited during the fasting period;
- Couples cannot hold a church wedding;
- It is not recommended to conflict with people and to think about bad things;
- Every Sunday, one should go to the church for the liturgy and pray daily.
However, some categories of people are not recommended to observe fasting: pregnant women or nursing women, children, military servicemen and people with severe illness. Those who still decided to fast are recommended to consult a doctor.
What people can eat during the Great Lent
The Great Fast is the strictest of all Orthodox fasts. At this time, the products of animal origin, as well as eggs, are completely excluded from the diet. It is allowed to eat fish, but only on certain days.
The strictest periods fall on the first and last weeks of fasting.
On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays xerophagy should be observed: it is allowed to eat vegetables, fruits and bread, drink water and compotes.
Cooked food without oil is allowed on Tuesday and Thursday.
On Saturdays and Sundays, believers can eat food with vegetable oil and a small amount of wine is allowed.
On the Great Lent, you can eat fish only twice: on the feast of the Annunciation and on Palm Sunday. On Lazarus Saturday believers can eat fish caviar.
In the first four days of Passion Week, you can only eat unleavened food without oil. The next day, on Good Friday, you need to refrain from eating. After that, you can only eat bread and drink water.