Greek feasting and fasting tides come and go as one occasion meets another. Here are the dates of when to feast and when to fast this year:
1 January New Year’s celebrations wouldn’t be complete without the cutting of a vasilopita to see who the lucky recipient of the Vasilopita coin is.
21 February-14 March Apokries means “away from meat” and is a time of carnival revelry, festive eating and flamboyance before the period of Lent heralding 40 days of abstinence. Everything builds to a crescendo in the second week which is all about meat-eating. Tsiknopempti (Fat Thursday) falls on 11 March this year.
6, 13, 20 March Three Saturday of Souls. These days are set aside for the commemoration of the dead within the liturgical year. People traditionally take kolyva to church to be blessed and to remember their deceased loved ones.
15 March Clean Monday marks the start of the Lenten period. A public holiday in Greece, people take to the great outdoors to fly kites while packing a picnic which includes lagana (Greek sesame flatbread), fish roe salad, seafood and sea shells, legumes, vegetables ad halva. This day marks weeks of fasting preceding Easter.
25 March Greeks celebrate the start of the War of Independence in 1821 and the Annunciation when Jesus’ conception was made known to Mary. Greeks traditionally eat cod, a Lenten food, with skordalia on this day.
25 April The Greek Orthodox Church on Palm Sunday allows the faithful to consume fish, oil, and wine but not dairy products, eggs, chicken and red meat.
2 May Greek Orthodox Easter. Cracking red eggs, eating tsoureki, magiritsa (soup made of intestines) along with lamb on a spit are the order of the day.
9 May Thomas Sunday. On this day, Pontians remember their loved ones and commemorate this by having a meal at the cemetery at the graves of the dearly departed.
19 June Saturday of Souls, kolyva are made for loved ones.
28 June Apostles’ fast begins. It runs until the feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul on 29 June. Depending on the date of Pascha, the Apostles Fast can begin as early as 18 May or as late as 21 June. Thus, it may be short or as long as 42 days in duration.
1-15 August The Fast of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, lasting from 1 August to the Dekapentavgousto (15 August) feast.
15 November Christmas fast begins and runs through to 24 December (fish can be eaten up to 17 December, except on Wednesdays and Fridays)
25 December Christmas feasting with all the trimmings. Kourabiedes, melomakarona, and meat eating revelry.
* Every Wednesday and Friday are fast days, except for feast days.