Great Lent 2023: what not to eat and who can disregard it

Marina PogorilkoLife
Great Lent begins for Orthodox believers

On Monday, February 27, Lent began in Ukraine. It will last until April 15, and on April 16, Orthodox believers will celebrate Easter.

So Lent will traditionally last 48 days. Read OBOZREVATEL's article to find out what it is all about, what traditions and prohibitions should be observed and who is allowed to avoid fasting.

What is the essence of Great Lent?

Lent is the main long fast in Christian denominations - Orthodoxy, Catholicism, etc. - whose purpose is to prepare for the celebration of Easter. People purify their souls and bodies from sin before the bright Resurrection of Christ. Fasting contributes to spiritual education and brings us closer to God.

It was established as a sign of imitation of Jesus Christ, who fasted in the desert for forty days.

Traditions and prohibitions of Lent

During this time, you need to pray, go to church and help all those in need. Charity is encouraged. It is also worth repenting of sins, apologising for wrongdoings and forgiving your loved ones.

It is imperative that you visit your family during this period, reconcile with them and become closer spiritually.


The following prohibitions should be observed during Lent:

- Do not swear, do not quarrel with your family, do not judge people and do not be jealous;

- do not drink alcohol, do not smoke, and do not indulge in bad habits at all;

- it is inappropriate to attend parties;

- it is strictly forbidden to get married;

- spouses should not have intimacy during the fast.

Food bans during Lent

During this period, you should not eat meat, fish and seafood (except for Palm Sunday), milk and dairy products, or eggs. There are also separate food rules depending on the day of the week. In particular, on Saturdays and Sundays, moderate amounts of wine are allowed.

On the first and last days of Lent, February 27 and April 15, you should not eat anything at all.

During Lent, the menu should be based on pickles and jams made from vegetables and fruits, onions, carrots, cabbage, beetroot, legumes, apples, oranges, nuts, and dried fruit.


Who is allowed not to fast

The following categories of believers are allowed not to observe the fast:

- children under 14 years of age

- pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers;

- people with chronic illnesses who may be harmed by fasting;

- people in difficult life situations, for example, in frontline areas;

- military personnel.

In general, priests argue that fasting should help us, not harm us, so if a person cannot refuse non-fasting food due to certain circumstances, it will not be a sin. However, the spiritual and moral restrictions that apply during Lent must be observed by everyone.

As reported by OBOZREVATEL:

- "Every year, before the beginning of Lent, Orthodox Christians celebrate Forgiveness Sunday. On this day, they simultaneously say goodbye to fasting food and ask for forgiveness for their mistakes and bad deeds. This year it fell on February 26;

- On February 27, Orthodox believers honour the memory of Cyril the Great. In the old days, the weather was predicted on this day. Read the OBOZREVATEL article to find out who celebrates their name day on this day.

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