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2 Mar, 2009 06:46

A time for austerity: Great Lent in Russia

After Russia joyfully celebrated Maslenitsa, a week-long pancake holiday that symbolizes the end of winter, Orthodox Christians now embark on the Great Lent: forty-eight days of fasting and prayer before Easter.

The first and the last two days of Lent are especially strict as believers should completely abstain from food.

Devout orthodox Christians are expected to avoid meat and animal products, fish and wine for the remainder of the period.

It’s is not only about fasting, but the believers should also avoid festivities during the Lent.

Fasting is just one of three things a believer has to do during the Lenten period, which symbolizes the time Jesus spent in the desert, where he endured temptation by Satan. The other two are prayer and almsgiving.

The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer for the Holy week both physically and morally.

The Lenten Fast ends following the midnight Easter service, which takes place on April 19.