Fasting

Just as there are times for feasting, there are also times set aside for fasting. During these periods, certain foods are prohibited. These are, in order of frequency of prohibition:

  • Meat (including poultry)
  • Dairy products
  • Fish
  • Olive oil
  • Wine

Fruits, vegetables, grains and shellfish are permitted throughout the year. Of course, the Orthodox Church never reduces the practice of fasting to a legalistic observance of dietary rules. Fasting, that is not accompanied by intensified prayer and acts of charity, inevitably becomes a source of pride. The Church also recognizes that not everyone can fast to the same degree, and assumes that individual Christians will observe the fast prescribed for them by their spiritual fathers.


All Wednesdays and Fridays, except for those noted below.
The day before the Feast of Theophany January 5
Cheesefare Week The last week before the Great Lent, during which meat and fish are prohibited, but dairy products are permitted even on Wednesday and Friday.
Holy LentClean Monday through the Friday before Lazarus Saturday, olive oil and wine are permitted on weekends.
Great & Holy WeekNote: Great and Holy Saturday is a day of strict fasting, during which the faithful abstain from olive oil and wine.
Apostles FastBegins on the 2nd Monday after Pentecost (the day after All Saints' Sunday) and continues until the Feast of Saints Peter & Paul on June 29, according to the Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar.
Fast for the Dormition of the Mother of God August 1-14 excluding August 6, on which fish, wine and olive oil are permitted
Beheading of St. John the Baptist August 29
Exaltation of the Holy Cross Sept. 14
Nativity Lent Nov. 15-Dec. 24 Fish, wine and olive oil are permitted, except on Wednesdays & Fridays, until December 17

The AnnunciationThe Annunciation

The following are fasting days on which fish, wine and olive oil ARE permitted:

The Feast of the Annunciation.
March 25, unless it falls outside the Great Lent, in which case all foods are permitted.
Palm Sunday
The Feast of the Transfiguration
August 6
The Feast of the Entry into the Temple of the Mother of God
November 21


The NativityThe Nativity

On the following days, all foods are permitted:

The first week of the Triodion (Feb. 8-14)
From the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee through the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, including Wednesday and Friday.
Bright Week, following the Sunday of Pascha
Bright Week is the week beginning on Pascha (Easter) and continuing up to (but not including) the following Sunday.
The week following Pentecost
The Feast of the Nativity of the Lord
Dec. 25 -Jan. 4