The beginning of Great Lent is celebrated by Orthodox Christians on Monday, March 2, 2020.
Lent is the main fast in the Orthodox Church, the purpose of which is to prepare a Christian for the celebration of Pascha.
This fast was established in memory of the fact that Jesus Christ fasted in the desert for forty days. However, Lent lasts almost seven calendar weeks and consists of forty days before the two feast days: Lazarus Saturday and the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem, and the following Holy Week: six days before Pascha.
The main purpose of Lent is not abstinence from certain types of food per se, but the reformation of one’s heart.
Saint John Chrysostom writes: “So, brother, what have you gained from fasting? Don’t tell me, ‘I fasted for so many days, I didn’t eat this and that, didn’t drink wine, endured uncleanness’, but show me whether you have become meek, whereas you were angry, and whether you have become loving, whereas you were cruel before, because if you are intoxicated with anger, then why are you oppressing your flesh? If there is envy and greed inside of you, then what is the use of drinking water?”
In 2020, Lent will end with Pascha, which will be celebrated on April 19.