Fasting is an integral and essential part of Orthodox Christian life. There are 4 major periods of fasting
during the year and a number of other days in which Orthodox Christians abstain from meat, dairy
products, eggs, fish, wine and oil.
The Lenten period commences 14th of March till Easter Sunday.
Every Wednesday and Friday (with some exceptions) is a fasting day. If a feast day falls on a
Wednesday or a Friday the fasting is relaxed as indicated. With the exception of Holy Saturday we
never fast from wine and oil on Saturday or Sunday because the Resurrection of Christ is celebrated on
these days. Please consult your spiritual father or priest to help you apply these guidelines to your own
Fasts Prescribed by the Church:
1. Wednesday and Friday Every Wednesday and Friday is to be observed with fasting unless some important Feast takes precedence over the fast. (See exceptions noted below) The Fast on Wednesday in memory of the betrayal of the Lord and the Fast on Friday in remembrance of His Passion and Death upon the Cross.
2. Special Fast Days August 29 – The beheading of St John the Baptist September 14 – The Elevation of the Holy Cross January 5 – The Eve of Epiphany
3. Lent, the Great Fast Lent begins forty days before Palm Sunday, on the Monday after Cheese-Fare Sunday and lasts until the evening preceding Palm Sunday. Holy Week is a special fast in honour of our Lord’s Passion and lasts from the evening of Palm Sunday through to Holy Saturday.
4. The Fast of the Holy Apostles The Fast of the Holy Apostles begins on the Monday after All Saints Sunday (the Sunday next after Pentecost) and lasts until June 28, the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. This Fast varies in length according to the date of Easter.
5. The Fast of the Theotokos The Fast which precedes the Feast of the Falling-asleep of the All-holy Theotokos begins on August 1 and lasts until the day of the Feast, August 15.
6. The Fast before Christmas The Fast before Christmas begins on November 15 and lasts until the day of the Feast of the Nativity, December 25.
7. Periods when Fasting is forbidden The Church forbids fasting during the following periods:
– From December 25 to January 4
– The week following the Sunday of the Pharisee and Publican.
– The week following Meat-fare Sunday (abstinence from flesh-meat is required during this week, but no fasting)
– The week following Easter
– The week following Pentecost