The dates of this fast vary every year according to the date of Easter. It rotates within 35 days of variance between Tir 17 (January 25) of lower limit and Yekatit 21 (February 29) of upper limit). The Fast of Nineveh is ritualistically similar to the Fast of the Great Lent. As with all other fasts of the Holy church, the fast of Nineveh is observed by refraining from the intake of all dairy and meat products.
During this fast, we remember the three days Prophet Jonah spent in the belly of a large fish as penance for his disobedience to God and the atonement of the sinful city of Nineveh. This fast teaches us how a sinner can inherit the kingdom of God through repentance and realized God’s love and concern not just for His own people.
During these three days, we should look at our lives and show remorse for our disobedient natures and follow in the footsteps of Prophet Jonah and the people of Nineveh. This fast is about getting rid of our bad habits, just like the mariners threw most of their cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load and to make the ship sail safe. This fast is about to cast off our worldly desires and cultivating virtues. Just as the captain awakened Jonah from his sleep, let us also awaken ourselves from spiritual sleep and call upon God during this three-day Fast.
Note: As the fast of Nineveh is the herald of the Great Lent, the Great Lent (55 days of fast) will begin on Monday, February 21.