Old style Orthodox Christians are marking today Shrove Sunday, which is the last day before Christmas Lent. For six weeks, the Christians will not eat eggs, meat and dairy and will abstain from carnal pleasures.
Instead, on Saturdays and Sundays, in the days of great celebration, will be allowed to eat fish. Priests say that the elderly, children and sick are exempted from the rigors of a vegetable-only regime.
The fasting lasts until 6 January and on Christmas eve the Christians will not eat anything until the afternoon.
On Shrove Sunday, housewives wash all the dishes in which they prepared the food for festive table, then place them on the table upside down on the night that opens the Christian Lent. There is a belief that in this way evil spirits will not hide there and will not tempt Christians from that house to abandon the fasting.
On the feast day, another tradition refers to a prohibition on women's household chores: do not wash, do not weave, do not clean, so that diseases and damage will not come into the household.
In the large families with many children, parents are fasting in order to protect their children from illness and unexpected accidents.