The Orthodox Church of Christ begins Great Lent
Today, the Monday of the first week of Great Lent, Orthodox Chrisitan believers have embarked upon the strictest and longest fasting period of the year.
Great Lent was established by the Church in memory of the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ fasted over the course of forty days, yet the Great Lenten period lasts for almost seven calendar weeks, comprised of the first forty days dedicated to repentance, called the Holy Forty Days, and two feast days, Lazarus Saturday and the Entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem, followed by Passion Week. For this reason it is called "great."
During weekdays of Great Lent, the Church does not celebrate Divine Liturgy, but on Wednesdays and Fridays, the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is performed. Singing is very limited and there are many readings from the Old Testament, especially from the Psalter, and in all weekday services, the prayer of St Ephraim of Syria is inserted, accompanied by prostrations.
Great Lent ends with the celebration of the Holy Pascha of Christ on 16 April this year.