SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26: The theme of forgiveness continues for Orthodox Christians today, and the preparation for Great Lent is about to become even more intense: after today, observant men and women restrict both meat and dairy from their diets, until Pascha (Easter). Known as the Sunday of Forgiveness, this is the last Sunday prior to the beginning of Great Lent. (Learn more from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.) This Sunday is also termed “Cheesefare Sunday,” as Orthodox Christians partake in dairy products one last time before Pascha. (Looking for a tasty dairy recipe? Try Food.com. Or whip up one of the hundreds of cheesecakes at AllRecipes!)
With Great Lent so near, the faithful today are asked to focus on the exile of Adam and Eve—and the universal need for forgiveness. Before asking forgiveness from God, one must ask forgiveness from others: During services today, attendees ask forgiveness from others and grant the same thing in return. (Get details from OrthodoxWiki.) Orthodox Christians also believe the fasting of Great Lent can’t begin until sins are reconciled, and so today’s focus on forgiveness remains of utmost importance.
Finally, the faithful recall a central theme of Triodion and Lent: the return to Paradise. By forgiving, being forgiven and “cleaning the slate” for the start of strict fasting, Eastern Christians prepare for Great Lent. Even the manner of fasting must be done quite specifically, however: the Bible teaches that men must “appear not unto men to fast but to our Father who is in secret.” Translation? Don’t look miserable! Devotees today prepare for a lengthy fast that is carried out with joy.