Easter, the most important of all feast days, is in a class by itself. The determination of the date of Easter was definitively regulated by the decision of the First Ecumenical Council, held in Nicaea (325 A.D.). Next in importance to Easter are the “twelve great feasts,” of which three are movable. Eight of these feasts are devoted to Christ and four to the Virgin Mary. There are also a number of feast days of varying importance, most of which commemorate the more popular saints.
See the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America website for information on the Feasts.
Just as there are times for feasting, there are also times set aside for fasting. During these periods, the Orthodox Church offers a rule to which we strive: no meat (including poultry), dairy products, fish, olive oil, and wine, listed in order of frequency of prohibition. (Wine and olive oil are permitted on Saturdays and Sundays.) Fruits, vegetables, grains, and shellfish are permitted throughout the year. The Church recognizes that not everyone can fast to the same degree; the degree to which we adhere to the rule comes with spiritual growth and practice, but it can begin when children are young. Of course, the Church does not reduce the practice of fasting to a legalistic observance of dietary rules. Fasting should be accompanied by intensified prayer, acts of charity, and watching what we say and do.
The following are fasting days and seasons:
The following are fasting days on which fish, wine, and olive oil are permitted:
On the following days, all foods are permitted:
When Sacraments May Not Be Held
Baptisms are forbidden on the following days:
It is also preferable that families abstain from baptisms during major fasting periods, so as to avoid festal celebrations following the sacrament that directly conflict with the solemn nature of the liturgical period in which the Church finds itself (e.g., Great Lent and the intensified fasting period December 12-24 preceding Christmas). In order to hold baptisms on any of the aforementioned days, a legitimate reason must be given and permission from the Metropolitan must be granted.
Weddings are forbidden on the following days:
Only in special circumstances granted by the Metropolitan may marriages be allowed on the above days.
When Funerals and Memorial Services May Not Be Held
Funerals may not be performed on (1) any Sunday out of the year or (2) Holy Friday, unless special permission is granted by the Metropolitan.
Memorial Services may not be held on: