The Great Lent is the longest and most important fasting period in the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is also known as the "Great Fast" or "Great Quadragesima" and it lasts for 40 days, not including Sundays, leading up to Easter.
The purpose of Great Lent is to prepare Orthodox Christians for the celebration of Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. During this time, Orthodox Christians engage in a period of repentance, prayer, and self-denial. The focus is on spiritual growth and developing a closer relationship with God.
The rules of fasting during Great Lent are quite strict. Orthodox Christians are expected to abstain from all meat, dairy, eggs, and other animal products, as well as alcohol and oil, for the entire period of the fast. There are also specific fasting guidelines for each day of the week during Lent, with some days being stricter than others.
In addition to fasting, Orthodox Christians are also encouraged to increase their prayer and attendance at church services during Great Lent. Many churches offer additional services and devotions during this time, such as the Akathist Hymn, the Salutations to the Theotokos, and the Presanctified Liturgy.
Great Lent culminates with Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter. This is a time of intense spiritual preparation and reflection, with special services and traditions marking the events of the Passion of Christ, including the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection.
Overall, Great Lent is a time of spiritual renewal and growth for Orthodox Christians, as they strive to deepen their faith and draw closer to God through fasting, prayer, and acts of love and charity.
The culmination of Great Lent in Holy Week is a powerful reminder of the sacrifice of Christ, and the triumph of love over sin and death. The Resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday is a celebration of the victory of life over death, and a reminder that through Christ, we can be reconciled to God and to one another.