Abrahamic / Middle Eastern Christianity 2019 Calendar of Greek Orthodox Holidays and Fasts Share Flipboard Email Print Emreturanphoto / Getty Images Christianity Christian Holidays Christianity Origins The Bible The New Testament The Old Testament Practical Tools for Christians Christian Life For Teens Christian Prayers Weddings Inspirational Bible Devotions Denominations of Christianity Funerals and Memorial Services Christian Entertainment Key Terms in Christianity Catholicism Latter Day Saints View More Table of Contents Expand Major Fasting Periods Individual Fast Days Days With No Fasting Permitted 2019 Greek Orthodox Calendar of Fasts By Nancy Gaifyllia Greek Food Expert Nancy Gaifyllia is a freelance writer who loves to cook and eat Greek food. Living in Greece for over 30 years, she explored its regional specialties. our editorial process Nancy Gaifyllia Updated January 29, 2020 More than 90 percent of Greeks belong to the Greek Orthodox Church and faith plays an important role in Greek life. The Greek Orthodox faith observes several fasts during the year. These fasts mean abstinence from foods derived from animals and fish containing red blood (cephalopods such as octopus and squid are allowed since they do not have red blood), dairy products, eggs, and at times from olive oil and wine as well. Strict observers of all fasting periods and fast days will follow these guidelines for more than 180 days a year. Total fasting (no food at all) is reserved for a period of time before taking Holy Communion. Foods allowed during fast periods are called nistisima (νηστίσιμα, pronounced nee-STEE-see-mah) and are eaten during the Great Lent and other fasts. Followers are encouraged to eat simply and modestly during any fasting period. Major Fasting Periods In the Greek Orthodox Church, there are four major fasts during the year. The Great Lent begins on a Monday, seven weeks before Easter and is the longest and strictest fasting period in the Orthodox calendar. Called Kathari Theftera (Καθαρή Δευτέρα, pronounced kah-thah-REE thehf-TEH-rah), this Monday translates to Clean Monday and it puts an end to the three weeks of Carnival celebrations that took place before it. Fasting restrictions are eased on the weekends during the period of Great Lent, although not completely abandoned. For Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday (the weekend before Easter), no food restrictions apply.The Fast of the Apostles, which lasts from one to six weeks, begins on a Monday, eight days after Pentecost, and ends the day before the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul. It is one of the oldest fasts in the church calendar.The Fast of the Dormition of the Theotokos (Mary, Mother of God), takes place from August 1 to 14 and ends with a similarly named feast on August 15. The Christmas Fast lasts from November 15 to December 24 and is broken into two parts, with a less strict observance that allows oil and wine on Tuesdays and Thursdays from November 15 to December 19. Individual Fast Days Some of these fast dates change each year. The following are 2019 dates: January 5: Eve of the Theophany (Epiphany)September 11: Beheading of St. John the BaptistSeptember 27: Feast of the Elevation of the Holy CrossWednesdays and Fridays Days With No Fasting Permitted Between Christmas and Theophany10th week before EasterWeek after EasterWeek after Pentecost 2019 Greek Orthodox Calendar of Fasts Note that each year, the actual date of many fasts will change. For 2019, the calendar is as follows: Theophany** January 6 Triodion Begins February 17 Saturday of Souls 1 March 2 Meatfare Sunday March 3 Saturday of Souls 2 March 9 Cheesefare Sunday March 10 Clean Monday March 11 Saturday of Souls 3 March 16 Sunday of Orthodoxy March 17 Lazarus Saturday April 20 Palm Sunday April 21 Orthodox Easter Sunday (Pascha) April 28 Ascension June 6 Saturday of Souls 4 June 15 Pentecost June 16 Apostles Fast Begins June 24 Dormition of the Theotokos* August 15 Exaltation of the Holy Cross September 14 Nativity of the Theotokos September 21 All Saints Day November 1 Presentation of the Theotokos to the Temple November 21 Nativity of Christ (Christmas) December 25 * Theotokos: Mary, Mother of God ** Theophany: Epiphany Learn About Greek Orthodox Great Lent Traditions Greek Orthodox Great Lent Food and Traditions What Is Advent? What Is Orthodox Easter? When Does the Christmas Season Start? Learn What Lent Means to Christians Orthodox Easter Dates The 40 Days of Lent What Easter Means to Christians Seasons of Faith What Is Philip's Fast? Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar The Liturgical Seasons of the Catholic Church What Ordinary Time Means in the Catholic Church When Is Christmas Day? When Is the Feast of the Assumption? When Is Pentecost Sunday?