Orthodox Lent is observed from Ash Wednesday to the evening of Holy Saturday and leads up to Easter Sunday, which runs from February 27 to April 15 this year. When we think of Easter, what comes to mind are Easter eggs and those fun games played before getting an Easter egg. However, there is a serious side to this religious festival — known as Orthodox Lent or Great Lent — observed by followers of the Christian faith. Celebrated before Easter Sunday, it is a six-week celebration for believers to prepare for Easter through abstinence, prayer, and fasting.
History of Orthodox Lent
The 40 days of Lent mark the period between Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert fasting and praying — this was the event that inspired the final length of Lent. Early Christian customs varied across the Roman Empire. Weekly fasting on Wednesday and Friday till mid-afternoon was typical. Also, supplicants and clergy would fast before the ceremony, commonly held at Easter. Various Christian communities conducted a 40-day fast before the three holiest days of the year: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.
From the sixth through the 12th centuries, Lent extended across Western Europe. Only a few Lenten days were “black,” meaning no food was to be consumed during the entire day until sunset. Daily fasting was gradually reduced. Meals at noon became common towards the end of the Middle Ages. During Lent, no meat or animal products, dairy, or eggs were allowed, even on Sundays, according to bishops and theologians, specialists in church law. The objective was to avoid indulgence during this season of repentance. Marriage ceremonies were also forbidden during the Lenten season.
On Lent Fridays, Catholics and some other Christians still refrain from meat, and on two days of the total fasting period, they eat only one meal with two smaller snacks. They also give up something during Lent. Like smoking or watching T.V., or often a favorite meal or drink. The elderly, ill, and pregnant women are exempt from fasting. In keeping with the spiritual and self-disciplined theme of Lent other activities are encouraged, including making peace with estranged relatives and friends, spiritual reading, and community work. While some traditions have altered, Lent remains a time of silent introspection and spiritual discipline.
Orthodox Lent timeline
Lent begins but not in the form we know, it is a day of self-examination and penitence which lasts for two to three days.
Lent begins shortly after the Council of Nicea for new converts as a sign of repentance.
Pope Gregory 1 standardizes the period of Lent churchwide to include Ash Wednesday.
The austerity of Lent relaxes and becomes less strict.
Orthodox Lent FAQs
Can you eat chocolate during Lent?
That is completely dependent on you. While some people give up their favorite food, others give up a habit. Giving up any of those lasts for the period of Lent and cannot be eaten till Lent is over.
What can I give up during Lent?
You can give up gossip, social media, coffee, sweets and treats, alcohol, snacks, soda, fast food, and so on to reflect.
Is Orthodox Lent considered Vegan?
The lifestyle and eating habits of a believer during Lent are considered to be vegan but only as a temporary way of life.
How to Observe Orthodox Lent
Lent is a time of reflection and renewal. Orthodox Lent requires steadfast self-discipline, a positive trait in life. There is a list of foods that believers need to abstain from during the period of Lent, which requires discipline, and certain rules must be strictly observed.
Orthodox Lent calls for doing things in moderation. There should be restraint in the quality and quantity of what you consume. It is also an opportunity to take stock of your habits and what you eat and drink and assess if you are following a healthy path.
Bring yourself closer to God
Orthodox Lent is not only about fasting but about being closer to God. While observing Orthodox Lent, draw yourself closer to God and practice Penance. It is also a good time for contemplation, self-reflection and letting go of destructive practices, such as grudges or the desire for unnecessary things.
5 Foods To Abstain From During Lent
It is advisable to abstain from eating any meat during Lent.
Eggs are a by-product of meat and should be avoided.
As a meat by-product, dairy products are on the list of things to be wary of eating.
As fish are creatures with a backbone, they should be avoided.
Some churches specify that no wine is allowed so it is one of the drinks to generally avoid.
Why Orthodox Lent is Important
It’s a time for complete devotion to God
During Orthodox Lent, there is a complete devotion to God and readiness to commit to His will and rules. Time spent on other activities is devoted to God through studying His Word, fasting, and praying.
It’s a time for helping others
Orthodox Lent is a time for people to consider their neighbors and help them. Extra food and money can be given to the needy at this time.
It expands your horizons
Orthodox Lent allows people to try vegan food they may never have considered. You can also try new vegan recipes, or Indian food as it is often vegan and vegetarian.
Orthodox Lent dates