The Voice of Russia website reports that today (February 27, 2012) is the first day of Lent for Orthodox Christians, who will concentrate on spiritual life for the next 40 days, as they prepare themselves for Easter.
Jesus Christ is known to have gone to a desert after baptizing and fasted there for seven weeks.
The period of fasting is the time for repenting, thinking, and praying, as well as the time when some foods -- such as meats and dairy products -- are not eaten, and all vicious habits and merry-making are given up, while the Lord is asked to cleanse away our sins.
Lent ends when Easter comes -- this year on April 15. The Greek Orthodox Easter will be celebrated one week after the Roman Catholic and Protestant Easter, which is being celebrated on April 8 this year.