Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Green Monday, and Beyond

I am reminded that, this year, Orthodox and Western Christians celebrate Easter on the same day.

That leads me to something I have been thinking of doing for several of the years I have been in Cyprus, but have never done: attempting to fast along with my Orthodox brethren in the same way that they do.

Now, as far as I know, the Orthodox don't begin Lent with Ash Wednesday, as we do. Here they have Green Monday, more universally known as Clean or Pure Monday (Καθαρή Δευτέρα). It is immediately preceded by Dairy Sunday, with the preceding Sabbath known as Meat Sunday.

Assuming I've got that all right -- Meat Sunday is the last day before Lent upon which meat can be eaten. That is followed the next Sunday by the last day for dairy products. From Green Monday on, it's just veggies and other horrid things (actually, I like veggies -- along with my food).

(Alice, if you're out there and have got this figured out yourself, let me know if I'm on the right track).

So, anyway, I am going to try to do this, and I would invite as many of you who feel you have the stomach for it, and the willpower, to join in. Along the way, perhaps we can all pass along some culinary tips, not to mention some spiritual morsels, that we manage to pick up from our Orthodox friends.

What say ye?


Anonymous said...

Lovely photo of veggies, Albion, especially the minaret cauliflower. I tried to grow one once but a possum ate it before I could.

Albion Land said...


Thanks for the link.

You are absolutely right, and I am worried about something as simple as practicality. Following the Orthdox diet will require a massive shift in shopping and cooking practices, and I don't know if I have the time and skill.

One thing I must investigate is what sort of things will be available on a take-away basis.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Most Wednesdays and Fridays are days of fasting for the Orthodox. There are other times of fasting throughout the Church year, which begins in September. Great Lent is the principal fast because the Orthodox liturgical calendar hinges on Pascha.

Fasting is regarded as a spiritual discipline along with prayer, Bible reading, and giving to those in need. Apart from these other disciplines, fasting becomes an act of dead righteousness.

Nothing in Orthodoxy happens suddenly. Instead there is a gradual progression of readings, instruction and exhortations. Just as Great Lent is preparation for Pascha, so there is preparation for Great Lent, a 3-week period called the Triodium. The readings for these 3 Sundays are the story of the Publican and Pharisee, that we might learn humility; the story of the Prodigal Son, that we might learn resolve to come to the Father; and the Last Judgment, that we might not take God’s grace for granted. Even before the first Sunday of Triodium, there is a preparatory reading: the story of Zaccheus; that we might learn to desire Christ above all things. The gradual preparation is intended to lead Believers from casual observance to stricter abstinence.

Albion is exactly right. February 11 is called Meat Fare. This is also the Sunday of the reading of the last Judgment. From this week until Pascha, Orthodox will cease to eat meat. Beginning on February 18, the Orthodox cease to eat cheese. Cheese Fare Sunday is also “Forgiveness Sunday” because on this day clery and laity ask one another’s forgiveness. This year Great Lent begins on Sunday, February 25, and is also called “Orthodox Sunday” because on this day Orthodox congregations join for Vespers, the members bringing icons of their name saints to be blessed. During Great Lent, the following foods are permitted: shellfish, grains (except egg pasta or egg noodles), vegetables, vegetable products and fruit.

I hope that it explanation is helpful.

poetreader said...

St. Nectarios' Church (a hyper-traditionalist Orthodox Parish) publishes some excellent cookbooks in accord with the strictest of Orthodox Lenten rules, but adjusted to American kitchens and grocery stores.


Steve Cavanaugh said...

I blogged on this myself last year, and included some recipes that may be useful.