For many people, Lent begins tomorrow with Ash Wednesday.  For me, however, Lent began yesterday.  Why is this?  I am Byzantine (Eastern Rite) as opposed to Roman (Latin Rite) catholic.  Some of our traditions and customs are a bit different.

One big difference on the first day of Lent is our abstinence policy.  Whereas in Roman rites people abstain from meat and poultry, in Eastern rites we also add dairy products to the list of things that cannot be eaten on the first day of Lent.  Although I am of an age (don’t you just love the term ‘of an age’?) where I no longer have to abstain I still feel as if it is one small thing I can still do.

Lent is a big thing in the Eastern rite churches.  The weeks leading up to the beginning of Lent are just as important and have their own significance.  Two weeks ago, January 31, was meat fare Sunday.  Traditionally this was the day families ate up all of the meat in the house since meat was not eaten during Lent.  This made sense when you realize that many years ago people didn’t have refrigerators and freezers to store meat in to keep it from spoiling.

This Sunday, February 7, was cheese fare Sunday.  On this day the houses were cleared of all cheese products since cheese was not eaten during Lent.  I will say that I do not follow these practices.  I do abstain from meat on Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent and add dairy products to the list on the first day of Lent and on Good Friday.

Although Kathy is Roman catholic, she has adopted this tradition as well so it really makes it easy for me to follow.

Although Lent for us is still 40 days, the week before Pascha (Easter) is considered Holy Week and not part of Lent.  Maybe more about that in a future post.




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16 responses to “Lent

  1. Traditions are important, even when one is of a certain age. I think the purging of all meat and dairy are interesting.

  2. I too love “of an age”, but try hard to ignore it most of the time. I’m glad you shared some of the differences in traditions, & it is interesting how things change with the use of electricity.

  3. I love learning about these varied rites – and I have now become used to being referred to as a “woman of a certain age” as well…not that I am particularly happy about it, however.

  4. Erika Haak

    I never knew about the abstaining from dairy! I was raised Catholic and am now Episcopal. In our current faith there is no abstaining from anything, but we still have Stations of the Cross on Friday nights. But, old habits die hard, I still don’t do meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during Lent, just because I did it for so long. As a family we are giving up all electronics on those days too–TV, phones, iPads, and computers, and I am giving up sugar on those days too! We’ll see how it goes!

  5. I love this new learning. I had no idea there were that many differences. We still don’t do meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during Lent, but I also notice my sister (married to a Hindu) who cannot eat “fish/seafood”. Those days seemed special when it was either peanut butter and jelly or fish fry!

  6. This is really fascinating. Do you also give up a bad habit or make a personal sacrifice like many Catholics do?

  7. Ah, I so much believe in your above statement. Better to add than to subtract. Always enjoy your writing.

  8. Today is definitely my day for learning something new. I never realized there are Roman and Eastern Catholics, it makes sense. While I myself was raised Baptist I always liked the personal sacrifice aspect of Roman Lent; It’s going to be junk food for me this year. (I’m wolfing down the last of the apple pie and salted caramel ice cream as I type – lol) Traditions are what makes us unique as we make them work for us even as they unify us with our roots. Now I am curious regarding Holy Week , Palm Sunday thru Easter Sunday I presume?

    Excellent share Arjeha.

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