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Festal exceptions:

 

A.   The partaking of oil and wine is allowed during the following Feast Days which coincide with days of fasting.

B.   The partaking of fish is allowed during the following Feast Days when they coincide with days of fasting.

C.   The partaking of every kind of food is allowed during the following festive periods.

General Descriptions

 

The Fasts of the Orthodox Christian Year and how they are observed: 

(All dates given are according to the Orthodox Christian [‘Julian’ or ‘old’] Calendar.)

 

A. The Fast of Wednesdays and Fridays.

A fast limited to vegetables, grains, fruits, and nuts, without wine and oil, is observed on every Wednesday and Friday, throughout the year, (69th Apostolic Canon), unless a feast day or festive period coincides in which partaking is allowed (See the section on Partaking). Fasting on Mondays, while practiced by monastics, clergy, and pious laity, is praiseworthy but is not compulsory for everyone (Comment in the Rudder, English version, p. 124).

 

B. The Fast of Great Lent and Holy Week (before Pascha).

On weekdays (Monday thru Friday), beginning with Clean Monday, a strict fast is observed without wine and oil. Furthermore on Wednesdays and Fridays, according to one's strength, unprocessed foods are consumed, (such as fruit and nuts). This is called Xerophagy or ‘dry-eating’. The first week of the Great Fast, Clean Week is kept as strictly as possible. On Satur­days and Sundays, the partaking of wine and oil is allowed. On the Feast Day of the Annunciation of the Theotokos (25th of March) fish is allowed. The week after Palm Sunday, Holy Week is kept as strictly as possible. Holy Friday especially, if possible, is kept with total abstinence from food until after the Divine Liturgy on Holy Saturday when bread and wine are blessed for consumption in the church. As the Lord said to the Pharisees: ‘The days will come when the Bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast’ (Matt. 9:15) (Lenten Triodion in English pp. 611, 660). During all these days, an effort should be made to eat once a day in the evening, if possible. This is the ancient practice of the Holy fathers, if and when they ate at all during Great Lent or Holy Week.

 

C. The Fast of the Holy Apostles (Apostles Fast).

Beginning on the Monday following All Saints Sunday, a fast limited to vegetables, grains, fruits, and nuts, without wine and oil, is observed on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the partaking of wine and oil is allowed. On Saturdays and Sundays, the partaking of fish is allowed. This fast ends on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (29th of June).

 

D. The Fast of the Most Holy Theotokos (1st – 15th of August) (Dormition Fast).

A fast limited to vegetables, grains, fruits, and nuts, without wine and oil, is observed on all weekdays. On Saturdays and Sundays, the partaking of wine and oil is allowed. The partaking of fish is allowed only on the feast day of the Transfigura­tion of the Saviour (6thof August).

 

E. The Fast of the Nativity of Christ (Christmas) (Nativity Fast).

Beginning on the 15th of November, a fast limited to vegetables, grains, fruits, and nuts, without wine and oil, is observed on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the partaking of wine and oil is allowed. According to tradition the partaking of fish is allowed on the Entry of the Theotokos (21st of November) and all the following Saturdays and Sundays till the Saturday and the Sunday on or before the Feast Day of St. Spyridon (12th of December), (before and after this only wine and oil are allowed on Saturdays and Sundays).

 

F. The Fast of Certain Holy Days.

A strict fast or xerophagy, without wine and oil, is observed on the following Holy Days:

·        The Eve of Theophany - 5th of January

·        The Beheading of St. John the Forerunner - 29th of August

·        The Exaltation of the Holy Cross - 14th of September

·        The Eve of the Nativity of Christ - 24th of December

 

(If the above days should happen to fall on Saturday or Sunday, oil & wine are allowed.)

 

G. The Fast of Cheese-fare Week.

The partaking of dairy products is allowed throughout the Cheese-fare Week, that is from the Monday after Meat-fare Sunday until and including Cheese-fare Sunday.

 

 

During the following Feast Days or festive periods it is permitted to relax the normal fasting routine as outlined below:

 

A.   The partaking of oil and wine is allowed during the following Feast Days which coincide with days of fasting.

·        January - 11, 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 25, 27, 30

·        February - 8, 10, 11, 17, 24

·        March - 9, 26

·        April - 23, 25, 30

·        May - 2, 8, 15, 21, 25

·        June - 8, 11, 30

·        July - 1, 2, 17, 20, 22, 25, 26, 27

·        August – 31

·        September - 1, 6, 9, 13, 20, 23, 26

·        October - 6, 18, 23, 26

·        November - 1, 8, 12, 13, 16, 25, 30

·        December - 4, 5, 6, 9, 12, 15, 17, 20

 

B.   The partaking of fish is allowed during the following Feast Days when they coincide with days of fasting.

·        7th of January - The Synaxis of Saint John the Forerunner.

·        2nd of February - The Presentation of the Lord.

·        25th of March - The Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos.

·        The Wednesday of Mid-Pentecost

·        The Apodosis (Leave-taking) of Pascha, the Wednesday 39 days after Pascha.

·        24th of June - The Birth of Saint John the Forerunner.

·        29th of June - The Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

·        6th of August - The Transfiguration of our Saviour.

·        15th of August - The Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos.

·        8th of September - The Birth of the Most Holy Theotokos.

·        14th of November - The Holy Apostle Phillip.

·        21st of November - The Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos.

 

C.   The partaking of every kind of food is allowed during the following festive periods:

·        The twelve days after the Nativity of Christ (Christmas), that is from the day of the Nativity of Christ till two days before Theophany (25th December till 4th January) and the on day of Theophany (6th January).

·        The first week of the Triodion, that is from the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee till the Sunday of the Prodigal Son.

·        The week of Pascha (New or Bright Week), that is from the Sunday of Pascha till the Sunday of Thomas.

·        The week of the Holy Spirit, that is from the Sunday of Pentecost till the Sunday of All Saints.

 

General Descriptions

The different types of fasting and eating are generally called and kept thus:

·        Strict Fast - Total abstinence of all food and water, true fasting in its purest form.

·        Xerophagy – Literally ‘dry eating’ partaking of unprocessed foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts or perhaps even dried bread and water.

·        Oil and Wine - On days when olive oil and wine are allowed, so is octopus and shellfish (fish with no backbone).

·        Fish - On days when fish (with a backbone) is allowed, so also are oil, wine, octopus, and shellfish.

·        Dairy - On days when eggs cheese and dairy products are allowed, so are all of the above.

·        Meat – On days when meat is allowed (unless one is monastic) all foods are allowed.

FASTING GUIDELINES, DATES AND SEASONS