Just as there are times for feasting in the Church, there are also times for fasting. Fasting is not a set of dietary laws or legalistic requirements. We fast in order to simplify our lives, to make room for God's presence through prayer, and to reduce our consumption so that we have something to share with others.
Fasting in the Orthodox tradition generally involves abstaining from meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, alcoholic beverages, and olive oil, eating simple meals, and perhaps also eating less or less often.
Below are listed the periods of fasting in the Orthodox Church:
- All Wednesdays and Fridays (unless otherwise indicated below).
- January 5, the day before Epiphany.
- Cheesefare Week, the last week before Great Lent (no meat is allowed but dairy is allowed all week).
- Great Lent
- Holy Week
- Holy Apostles Fast (from the Monday after All Saints Day until June 28 inclusive - fish, wine and oil are allowed)
- Dormition of the Virgin Mary - August 1-14
- The beheading of St. John the Baptist - August 29
- The Exaltation of the Holy Cross - September 14
- Advent, Christmas Lent, November 15 - December 24
Fast Days on which Fish, Wine and Olive Oil are permitted:
- Annunciation - March 25 (If it falls outside of Great Lent it is fast-free)
- Palm Sunday
- The first week of Triodion (third week before Great Lent)
- Bright Week (the week after Pascha, the Resurrection)
- The week after Pentecost
- December 25 through January 4