About Orthodox Lent
When is Great Lent?
Great Lent corresponds to Lent as found in Western Christianity, though the length of the periods are calculated in different ways.
They both use a period of 40 days between the beginning and end of Lent, because of the 40 days that Jesus is said to have spent fasting the desert. However, Western Christendom doesn't count Sundays because Jesus is recorded as having resurrected on a Sunday, whereas Eastern Orthodox churches do count Sundays.
The word "lent" is derived from the Anglo-Saxon 'lencten' which literally means "spring". 'Lencten' has a root in the Germanic word for long, which assigned itself to Spring as the days become longer.
In several countries, lent marks the start of spring. For example, in Greece, Clean Monday (Ash Monday) is taken to be the first day of spring.
In Greece and Cyprus, Lent is known as Saracosti, which comes from the word forty, which is the forty day period until Palm Sunday and then one more week until Easter Day making a total of 49 days of "fasting". The fasting is done so that the body and spirit are "cleansed" to prepare for accepting the Resurrection.
During Saracosti, no meat or dairy foods are eaten. Instead, Lenten food usually consists of plenty of olives, taramasalata, Halva, vegetables, legumes and seafood, such as calamari, octopus, shrimps, oysters, cuttlefish, mussels, lobsters etc. Fish is not allowed with the exception on two days: on the 25th of March (Annunciation of the Virgin Mary) and on Palm Sunday.
Key Dates in Great Lent
The Orthodox Easter period influences a range of festivals and events. The following is an overview of the events. Click the name of a holiday to read more about an individual event.
|Shrove Monday||March 2nd||Clean Monday begins the season of Great Lent in Eastern Orthodox Churches.|
|Good Friday||April 30th||Good Friday occurs on the Friday before Easter. The day commemorates the Crucifixion of Jesus.|
|Easter Sunday||May 2nd||Celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead after his death by crucifixion|
|Pentecost Monday||June 21st||The day commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit in the form of flames to the Apostles, as recorded in the New Testament in Acts, 2.|