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March 19, 2012

LENT


     Lent contributes to the spiritual empowerment of Christians and to good health.


     The Greek Orthodox Easter (Pasha) season starts with The Great Lent, beginning on Clean Monday seven weeks before Easter Sunday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent lasts forty days because, according to biblical accounts, Jesus went into the wilderness for forty days of fasting, meditation and reflection before beginning his ministry. The Greek Orthodox faith follows a modified Julian calendar to establish the date of Easter each year and it does not always or often coincide with the date of Easter in other faiths.
(This year Greek Orthodox Easter is on 15th April)


    Greek Orthodox Lent is a time of fasting, which means abstaining from foods that contain animals with red blood (meats, poultry, game) and products from animals with red blood (milk, cheese, eggs, etc.), and fish and seafood with backbones. Two days are excluded from fasting and those are the 25th of March when  Annunciation (of the Virgin Mary)  is celebrated and everything, schools, stores, public services are closed and of course Palm Sunday. On these days, fish especially cod is cooked, accompanied by a garlic sauce.

    The past few years Greek fast food chains have modified their menus to accommodate the needs of the people fasting during these periods.

    This is an ad from Goody's (a Greek fast food chain):


Even Mac Donald's did the same! Look at its ads during Lent:
 



    McDonald’s offer more seafood based items, mainly shrimps. There are even spring rolls.

     The purpose of fasting is to cleanse the body as well as the spirit in preparation for accepting the Resurrection at Easter, which is the most sacred of all observances in the Greek Orthodox faith. 

     In grocery stores and generally food stores, one can see little labels on the products specifying that they are 'Nistisima' which means that the food has been made without animal products. Fasting certainly doesn't mean 'no food'! (Some of the pastries and sweets made now are more delicious than at any other season).

Spring Cleaning

     In addition to cleansing the body and spirit, Lent is also a traditional time for spring housecleaning. Houses and walls get new coats of whitewash or paint, and inside, cupboards, closets, and drawers and generally the whole house gets thoroughly cleaned and freshened.

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