The Apostles’ Fast is unique among the fasts of the church because its length is variable. Unlike the 15 days of the Dormition Fast, the 40 days of the Nativity Fast, or the 40 days of the Great Fast of Lent, the Apostles’ Fast may vary in length from a few days to several weeks.
The Apostles’ Fast begins on the Monday after All Saint’s Sunday (the Sunday after Pentecost) and continues until the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul on June 29. Thus the length of the fast is determined by the date (early or late in the spring/summer) of Pentecost.
Different traditions observe the Apostles’ Fast more strictly than others. For most traditions, however, the fast is not as strict as that of Great Lent, as fish, wine, and oil are allowed more frequently.
During the Apostles’ Fast, the faithful can reflect upon the lives of the Apostles, study their stories, and learn from their examples. Thus it is fitting to conclude the feast by celebrating the Apostles Peter and Paul.
As with any fasting period, during the Apostles’ Fast Orthodox Christians focus their attention on prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and study in an attempt to live more God-centered, faithful lives.
5 Simple Ways to Observe the Apostles’ Fast
1. Pray for Priests and Hierarchs
Our bishops today are the direct “descendants” of the apostles since the apostles’ teaching has been handed down to them, unbroken, through apostolic succession. Thus, it is fitting to include prayers for our hierarchs during this season. Perhaps your family can add your priest, bishop, and metropolitan to the prayer list in your icon corner and pray for them each night of the Apostles’ Fast.
2. Pray for the Church around the World
The apostles spread the Good News about Jesus all over the known world. The churches that they founded, plus those in other parts of the world, exist because of their missionary zeal. You can help your children begin to understand the global nature of the Church by including prayers for the Church around the world in your prayer rule. These could include prayers for our brothers and sisters experiencing persecution, prayers for churches in war-torn countries, and prayers for churches that your family is connected to ethnically or culturally.
3. Plant a Garden
In many locations, the Apostles’ Fast is a good season to begin planting a garden. Think about fruits, vegetables, and herbs that your family enjoys, especially in fasting recipes, and plant away! Herbs are especially simple to plant and can add great flavor to fasting dishes.
This can be a fun activity to do together as a family and may help involve children more in the preparation of meals. Bonus–they may enjoy the meals more and become more adventurous in their food choice, too!
4. Give to Missionaries
One wonderful way to give in honor of the apostles is to give to missionaries who are also spreading the Gospel throughout the world. Your family can save coins over the Apostles’ Fast to give, or you can strive to eat simply and give the money you saved to missionaries. Be sure to check out the OCMC’s (Orthodox Christian Mission Center) website to learn more about Orthodox missions, read missionary updates, and learn how to support a missionary.
5. Research the Lives of the Apostles
The Apostles’ Fast is an excellent time to study the lives of the apostles. Children can do this through Scripture and Church tradition. You can find some good resources for this study on the Greek archdiocese website, on the Holy Ascension Church website, and on the Saint Thomas Orthodox Church website.
Helping your family enter into the life of the Church–with its fasts and feasts–doesn’t have to be complicated. These simple activities (and many others!) can help focus hearts and minds upon spiritual realities.
Resource for Family
In order to help your family celebrate this feast and the other feasts and fasts of the Church year, I have written my e-book, Seasons of the Faith.
This 200 page e-book is designed to help you and your family celebrate the feasts and fasts of the Church year. You will learn:
- The story of each feast
- Simple, practical ways to celebrate the feast or fast as a family
- Fun learning activities designed for younger children
- Engaging age-appropriate learning activities for older children
- Tips for fasting with children
If you are a recent convert wanting to learn more about the Church calendar, then this book is for you!
If you are a long-time Orthodox Christian who wants to make the faith come alive to your children, then this is for you!
If you are a Church School teacher looking for activities and lessons for your children, then this book is for you!
Seasons of the Faith is priced at only $12.
What does your family do during the Apostles’ Fast?