The Triodion


Rev. Andrew George

Annunciation Church, Cranston, RI

The Triodion Period is the period of time in our Orthodox Liturgical year that encompasses 3 segments of time, that ofpublicanphariseethe Pre-Lenten cycle, of Great Lent itself and of Holy Week.

(The word “Triodion” literally means “3 odes” referring to a series of hymns that are sung, but also applying to the 3 segments of time and the associated observances in each of these time segments.)

The Triodion Period begins on the 4th Sunday before Great Lent, usually in February or early March, In 2010, it began Sunday January 24 (with Vespers the evening before), earlier than usual.

During this period, the following occurs:

1. A book, called “The Triodion,” is used in the church services. There are special hymns and readings assigned to the service. This book is used throughout the Pre-Lenten period, through all of Lent, and through Holy Week, up to Holy Saturday night.

2. There is a special service known as “The Saturday of Souls” (Memorial Saturdays) that are observed in which we commemorate and remember our departed relatives.

Two of these services are held during the Pre-Lenten Period, and one more is celebrated on the First Saturday of Lent. In 2010 the dates are:

Saturday, February 6 / Saturday, February 13 / Saturday, February 20

3. Each of the four Sundays of the Pre-Lenten Period have special themes and Bible Readings. Each Sunday initiates the week. Certain observances occur on certain weeks.  These are:

A. Week of Publican & Pharisee (in 2010 – January 24) Sunday Readings are: 2nd Timothy 3:10-15 & Luke 18:9-14

Theme is: Humility and the correct observance of the teachings of God, observing without pride, and without looking down upon others. We are called to see ourselves as we truly are and compare ourselves to Christ’s teachings.

Observance of the Week:

No fasting during this week (not even on Wed or Fri), in preparation for the more strict 40-day fast period

B. Week of the Prodigal Son (in 2010 – January 31) Sunday Readings are: 1st Corinthians 6:12-20 & Luke 15:11-32

Theme is: Return and forgiveness to someone who has done wrong; we should not “rub it in” to someone who is trying to correct their mistakes. We are called to come to “ourselves” as did the prodigal to see if we also may be “far” from the Father’s house and if so, make movement to return.

Observances of the Week:

a. Wednesday and Friday are a fast day

b. Saturday is the First Memorial Saturday

c. Traditional “Apokreas Parties” (apokreatiko) are held

C. Week of Apokries – Meat Fare Day (in 2010 – February 7) Sundays Readings are: 1st Corinthians 8:8-9:2 & Matthew 25:31-46

Theme is: The Last Judgment of Christ when He returns to the earth again; what will happen to mankind and what is expected of mankind. We are called to see Christ in every human being and serve those in need by doing for them, not simply intending to do, but actually doing to bring Christ’s embrace to them.

Observance of the Week:

a. It is “Meat Fare” day, known as “Apokreas”(meaning, “from meat’) in which we eat meat for the last time until Easter. All other foods are eaten, Mon-Sat except for meat.

b. Saturday is the Second Memorial Saturday

c. Traditional Apokreas parties (Mardi Gras, or apokreatiko) are held on the weekend

D. Forgiveness Sunday – Cheese Fare – First Week of Lent (in 2010 – February 14) Sunday Scripture Readings: Romans 13:11-14:4 & Matthew 6:14-21

Theme is: Forgiveness of each other of sins and offenses. Personal renewal with mankind (with each other), so as to prepare for the personal renewal with God during Great Lent. A sub-theme is: that of Adam’s exile from paradise. We are to identify ourselves with Adam, lamenting our loss of the beauty, dignity and delight of our original creation, mourning our corruption in sin.

Observances of the Day:

a. Asking forgiveness of those whom we know we have offended and done wrong. In some parishes “Forgiveness Vespers” is offered in the evening.

b. Eating dairy and cheese products to prepare for eating of “pure foods” the next day.

The Next Day – Kathera Theftera – Pure Monday or Clean Monday: (in 2010 – February 15). The first day of Great Lent. Special Lenten Services begin and continue throughout Lent.

The 1st Saturday of Lent is the 3rd Memorial Saturday, also known as “The Miracle of St. Theodore with the Wheat.” Food fasting is strict, no meat, fish or dairy products; oil and wine are permitted on Sat & Sun. The same pattern is followed overall through Great Lent with certain exceptions based on calendar observances of particular major


The Triodion Period begins as a three week Period of Preparation for Lent (having 4 specific Sunday observances), that continues on through Great Lent with its own new series of Sunday observances and then includes as well Holy Week, that recounts the last days of Christ’s life.

The Triodion is also a book used during the period of preparation and also during Great Lent and Holy Week.

During the three weeks of this first portion of the Triodion Period:

1. Various themes are presented to prepare us for the renewal, to get us thinking

2. We give special remembrance to those who have died.

3. We prepare our bodies and stomachs to fast by gradually beginning to fast more thoroughly from various foods during various weeks

4. We hear our Lord’s teaching about the topic of forgiveness, fasting & treasures……

(Matthew 6: 14-21)

“If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you; but if you do not forgive their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you, your trespasses.”

“When you fast, anoint your head and wash your fast that your fasting may not be seen by men…and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth & rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust consumes and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”