WESTERN RITE FAST AND ABSTINENCE
WESTERN RITE FAST AND ABSTINENCE are very close to the regular Eastern Rite as to days and seasons, but the actual form of fasting is somewhat different.
As a guide to North Americans, the notation is made that fasting is not recommended for those not in good health, children, or the elderly, and if headaches or difficulty in mental focus occur the fast is to be broken immediately.
Fasting in the Western Rite has ranges.
The Strict Fast - a fast of bread and water in nominal amounts sufficient for sustenance and functionality.
The Regular Fast - up to three meals per day are allowed. The two smaller meals combined must not be equal to or greater than the larger meal.
Abstinence - complete and total abstinence from meat of mammals, birds, amphibians (e.g.: cows, goats, chicken, alligator, crocodile). It may include abstinence from milk and milk products (e.g.: cheese) according to tradition and local custom. Seafood (fish, shrimp, oysters, etc.) are allowed if allowed by tradition and local custom.
Partial Abstinence - Meat, etc., is allowed daily at one meal, usually the main meal, if allowed by tradition and local custom. Partial Abstinance must be specified - meaning if Abstinance is stated it means complete and total abstinance.
All Wednesdays and Fridays of the year are days of Fast and Abstinence. Usually this is voluntary, but in some Sees it is mandatory. Where it is voluntary, those who do not take advantage of Fasting and Abstinence on Wednesdays and Fridays are deemed spiritually foolish. Some geographic areas (such as Guatemala) have made Wednesday Fast and Abstinence voluntary and Friday Fast and Abstinence mandatory. In some places Wednesday and Friday immediately following Pascha have been exempted from Fast and Abstinence by local tradition or custom, and in some traditions it is considered wrong to Fast and Abstain during the week immediately following Pascha, and again in some few places one is not to Fast and Abstain from Pascha through the Ascension (40 days).
Great Lent Fasting - Strict Fast if possible, but at least Regular Fast during all of Great Lent, preferably beginning Monday but at least beginning Ash Wednesday. New Orleans, Mobile, the Carrebian, and Central and South America begin fasting on Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is determined by the Orthodox (Julian) Calendar and not the Roman (Gregorian) Calendar.
Great Lent Abstinence - Mandatory on all Wednesdays and Fridays.
Advent Fasting - Not mandatory in all places but is at least recommended in all places. Strict Fast if possible, but at least Regular Fast beginning the first Monday of Advent.
Advent Abstinence - Recommended on all Wednesdays, mandatory on all Fridays.
In addition, many local customs and traditions include the traditional Fast of Saints Peter and Paul, etc., Meat Fare Day, Cheese Fast, etc., but these are governed by the respective Orthodox Jurisdiction traditions.