Great and Holy Lent

(2016: March 14 through April 30)

Great and Holy Lent is one of the four Canonical Fasting Seasons in the Church year. We observe the traditional fasting discipline (no meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, fish, wine and oil) during the Great Fast which lasts from Pure Monday through Great and Holy Saturday. There is dispensation for wine and oil on Saturdays and Sundays. The only except to that is on Great and Holy Saturday when oil is not permitted. Fish, wine and oil are permitted on the Annunciation (March 25) and Palm Sunday. Here are the general guidelines:






beef, chicken, pork, turkey, elk, lamb, deer, rabbit, etc.

milk, eggs, cheese, butter, yogurt, cream, and so forth

fish with a backbone (not including shrimp, octopus, shellfish, squid, or other seafood.

(some include all types of alcohol in this category)

(some include all types of oil in this category)



Fish is permitted on the Annunciation, which is March 25, and on Palm Sunday.

on Saturdays & Sundays, on the Annunciation, and on Great Thursday.

on Saturdays & Sundays, on the Annunciation, on Great Thursday, but not on Great Saturday.

Total Abstinence from all food and drink (except water and herbal teas, if hydration is absolutely necessary) is traditionally observed on the first three days of Great Lent and from Great Friday until Pascha. The Eucharistic Fast is total abstinence at least from the previous midnight for communing at a morning Liturgy or following a light breakfast for communing at an evening Liturgy. For an Evening Divine Liturgy, we fast completely (from marital relations, smoking, food, and drink) usually from noon until Holy Communion is received.


The Purpose of Fasting

The purpose of fasting is to focus on the things that are above, the Kingdom of God . It is a means of putting on virtue in reality, here and now. Through it we are freed from dependence on worldly things. We fast faithfully and in secret, not judging others, and not holding ourselves up as an example.


Do Not Fast