Fasting Seasons in the Orthodox Church

There are four main periods of fasting during the year:

The Great Fast (Lent) — begins seven weeks before the Resurrection (Pascha)

The Fast of the Apostles — starts on Monday eight days after Penetcost, and ends June 28th (July 11th), the eve of the Feast of SS. Peter and Paul; in length varies between one and six weeks

The Dormition Fast — last two weeks, from August 1st to 14th (August 14th to 27th)

The Nativity Fast (Advent) — lasts 40 days, from November 15th to December 24th (November 28th to January 6th)

In addition to these four chief periods, all Wednesdays and Fridays — and in some monasteries Mondays as well — are fast days (except between the Nativity and Theophany, during Bright Week, and during the week after Pentecost). The Elevation of the Cross, the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, and the eve of Theophany are also fasts.

Talk to your parish priest/spiritual father for guidance as your family begins to fast, and ask him to explain the Church’s guidelines for fasting. (The “fasting rule” may also be found in many Orthodox service books and prayer books, and on Orthodox wall calendars.)

Taken from Bishop Kallistos Ware’s, The Orthodox Church, New Edition, New York: Penguin Books USA, 1997, p. 300.