Monday, July 31, 2006

Time to Prepare for the Assumption

The Assumption of the Virgin Mary is on August 15. I didn't realize until now that there is a traditional fast which happens for the first two weeks of August to prepare for this feast day. As we are told in A Continual Feast:
Before the celebration of the Assumption there is a traditional fast throughout much of the Christian world -- especially among the various Orthodox groups. (The Copts in particular keep this fast with the greatest devotion.) In Sicily and throughout much of Italy this fast and subsequent feast take an interesting form: for the first fourteen days of August no fruit at all is eaten. Then, on the day of the feast itself, every possible kind of fruit is eaten, along with an assortment of cheeses and breads. But no meat. This is, then a little like Christmas Eve: a "joyous fast." This tradition may also be related to the fact that on this day it has long been customary to implore the blessings of the Virgin over herbs, fruits, and flowers.
Now this is an unusual fast indeed. For some people who are continually trying to add fruit to their diets it may not seem like such a fast after all, but rather a treat!

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