Lent, as all Christians know, commemorates the 40 days of fasting of Jesus Christ.
According to the book Saints and Sacraments of the Armenian Church by Bishop S. Kaloustian, Lent begins on the Monday following the Sunday of Poon Paregentan (today) and ends the evening of the Friday before Palm Sunday.
Lent is a time of self-discipline. We are instructed to "examine ourselves, strengthen our character, renew our purpose in life, and to make penance to correct our faults, weaknesses and sins." At the same time, we resolve "to be more humble, more gentle, and exercise self control over our appetites."
Humans have many appetites, of course, and many of the faithful try to keep the whole range in check by avoiding dances and other amusements.
Sadly, there's no loophole for us food lovers.
In fact, the Armenian church is stricter than most Western Churches when it comes to food abstinence during Lent. Western Churches generally call for abstaining from meat, but Eastern Christians abstain from "all kinds of flesh meat, including fish, and all other animal foods, i.e. dairy products and eggs."
Of course, this was a bit less of a challenge in the days when meat and eggs weren't necessarily part of the daily routine. These days, at least here in America, we don't know many people who follow Lenten law to the letter.
But many of us do give up one or more of our favorite foods, while others take the opportunity to get in touch with their inner-vegetarian.
Rest assured that we're here to help. We've gone through our files to find traditional Armenian Lenten recipes, and we'll be posting them throughout the season.
If you have a family favorite, please share!