Culture & Traditions

Lenten Season

As Easter is the most important religious holiday for the majority of Macedonians, the forty days of Lent preceding the great holiday are the most challenging period of devotion for them. Although for many people with the modern life style it is close to impossible to observe the required diet and prayers for such a long period, the number of those who fast without a problem and according to the canon is growing. The meaning of the fast is to grow spiritually, to enter in a communion with God through prayer, good thoughts, righteous deeds and a proper way of life. The fast is the time when one prepares him or herself for living in the true state of life, before the fall of humankind from Eden. Lent, or the “Great Fast” (Veliki post), begins on Clean Monday, seven weeks before Easter and runs for six weeks. The fast includes the first six days of the Holy Week known in Macedonian as the “Week of Passion” and ends in the very early morning of Easter Sunday. The fast means abstinence from certain types of food, such as meat, eggs, dairy products, wine and oil. But besides dietary restrictions one has to devote him or herself to intensified prayer, confession, repentance, self-examination and almsgiving. The fast is strict but during some days fish, wine and oil are permitted. It is interesting that during Lent the liturgical weeks do not start from Sunday but from Monday in order to culminate in the greatest of all Sundays, the Easter Sunday. During Lent a special liturgical book known as the Lenten Triodion is used in the churches. Another feature of Lenten services is the increased attention to the theme of death, which combines a contemplation of mortality and penitence with remembering the dead. Three Lent Saturdays are dedicated to the commemoration of the deceased. Since Lent is a moveable season, in different years, different feast days may fall within Lent. When this happens, the fast is relaxed for the day of the feast, for instance, to allow fish, and the Lenten message is combined with the celebration of the feast. Read more…