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The Fasting of Lent


The fasting of Lent, also known as Easter fasting, is one of the few which are validated with rules stemming from the Ecumenical Council since most fasts are held according to the traditions. The fasting of Lent begun in the years of the Apostles to commemorate the fasting of Jesus Christ and the prophets Moses and Elijah.

This long period of fasting with specific rules is connected to the ancient Easter fasting and was identified with the preparation of the faithful for their baptism during their catechism. Easter also constituted a period during which group baptisms were carried out up to the 6th century A.D., after which the institution gradually weakened.
In the early Christian period, the calculation of the days of Lent went through many different phases as to which would be the forty days of fasting, whether Saturday and Sunday were included in them and finally if the Holy Week will be counted as part of the 40 days.

For the Eastern Orthodox Church, from the 8th century to date, the final form of the Great Lent has prevailed, where within the 40 days’ counting is no taken into consideration the Holy Week, yet Saturdays and Sundays are counted. Therefore, Great Lent is completed in six weeks where from a total of 42 days (6 weeks x 7 days) are not included Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday. These two days keep the institution of catechism as part of the baptism sacrament and are considered episcopal holidays.

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