Pizza Week 2013
Monday, March 11, through Sunday, March 17 (right up until 11:59pm)
Please note: The above dates are for 2013!
This might seem more complicated than it is. I added a page for the fasting guidelines, just in case!
As some of you know, one of the reasons I created this vegan food blog is for my Orthodox Christian friends, to give them ideas for meals and snacks on fasting days. What you might not know is, despite the fact we are fasting more days than not, we Orthodox Christians also love to eat. The great and wide variety of foods, after all, are a gift to all of us from God. So to keep things balanced, the Church does more than give us fasting days of preparation and repentance. We also have feasting days (and weeks!) in celebration and in preparation.
That’s where Pizza Week comes in, in preparation for Great Lent. You see, during Great Lent and Holy Week – the 50 day period preceding Pascha (Easter) – Orthodox Christians generally abstain from all meat, eggs, fish, dairy, oil and wine (shellfish, like shrimp for example, are still permitted). This is called a strict fast.
If you think Fat Tuesday is great, just wait. In preparation for Great Lent, we start with one whole week without any fasting except the brief fast before communion that Sunday morning. Then we slowly work our way into the fast. We have these two special Sundays before Lent begins. One is called Meatfare Sunday. It’s the last day when meat is permitted. Eat all the meat you want – I’ll be eating the last of my faux meat, if I have any.
The next day Cheesefare week begins, and with it, fasting from all meat. But dairy is allowed every single day (normally during the year, we keep the strict fast every Wednesday and Friday) – and again, I’ll be using up my faux cheese. Then comes Cheesefare Sunday, the last day to eat any dairy or eggs. After Cheesefare Sunday, the strict fast begins, with a slight relaxation on Saturdays and Sundays when oil and wine are permitted.*
Now, you may wonder why I’m using a picture of vegan pizza to illustrate Pizza Week, which clearly is not meant to be a vegan affair. I’ll get to that later. (The picture is from Vegan Pizza Day 2012, in case you wondered). But now, a brief interview with my brother-in-law, the brains behind Pizza Week.
OhSheCooks: Is Pizza Week your idea?
Brother-in-law:There are other versions of Pizza Week at different times of the year for different reasons (including a National Pizza Week each January). However, my version of Pizza Week that takes place annually during Cheesefare Week (the week preceding the beginning of Great Lent) in the Eastern Orthodox Church is believed to be the only such Pizza Week in existence and was created by me.
OSC: How did you come up with it? Why pizza, why not cheesecake?
BIL:Because pizza is the best food in the world and the most difficult to give up for Lent. Almost 50 days without pizza? It’s basically unheard of in today’s society. Plus, who wants to eat cheesecake every day for a week? That’s not a meal.
OSC: How many pieces of pizza, on average, do you consume during Pizza Week?
BIL:I’m not sure I ever actually counted. It’s also hard to tell because sometimes I have deep dish, sometimes thin crust, etc. Some pieces may be larger triangle shaped, while others smaller squares. Maybe I will keep track this year…
OSC: In what way does gluttony help prepare us for the fast? (that one is a joke, but you can answer it if you want).
BIL:There is a common misconception that Pizza Week means eating only pizza for every meal. This is not the case. If you read the rules, it simply means you must eat pizza at least once per day. So, as long as you are eating the normal portion meal size each time, it is far from gluttonous. You can always opt to make your other meals extra healthy to make up for it.
OSC: Anything else you think people should know about Pizza Week?
BIL:Have fun with it! Get together with friends during the week and take turns providing the pizza. And mix it up too – deep dish, thin crust, double dough, etc. You will get slightly bored if you eat the same pizza every day. And don’t forget to plan ahead for what kind of pizza you are going to eat when Lent is over.
1. You must eat pizza at least 1 time every day. It does not have to constitute a whole meal, but it can.
2. You must eat a standard size piece of pizza at least.
3. You can eat any type of pizza you want – thin, pan, Chicago style, etc.
4. You may eat pizza multiple times in one day.
5. You can put anything on the pizza you want (though meat is technically not allowed that week, please consult your priest or spiritual father to discuss your personal fasting rule).
6. You don’t have to be Orthodox or be giving up pizza for Lent to participate in Pizza Week (though that’s generally the point).
7. It is highly recommended that the next time you eat pizza after March 17th at 11:59 pm is after the Anastasi Service on Pascha (generally about 1-3am on Sunday, May 5th.)
In case there is any doubt, we are talking about REAL cheese pizza for Pizza Week. Eating vegan pizza during Lent is a completely separate entity and in no way affects the splendor or legitimacy of Pizza Week (unless you are already a vegan and plan to give up vegan pizza for Lent).
*As mentioned in the rules, please consult your priest or spiritual father to discuss your personal fasting rule. Also, although I’m only talking about food here, there is more to it than that. That could be for another post, or, ya know…your priest, your personal fasting rule, etc.