In The Story of Christianity,* author Justo Gonzalez offers the following:

There were indeed times set aside for sorrow for one's sins, in particular during the two weekly days of fasting, which the church adopted from Jewish practice. At an early date, however, at least some Christians began fasting, not on Mondays and Thursday, like the Jews, but rather on Wednesdays and Fridays. It may be that this shift took place in commemoration of the betrayal and the crucifixion.

Was this fasting practiced in a majority of early churches? If so, at what point in history did the tradition cease? Is there more information as to why the days of Wednesday and Friday were chosen over Monday and Thursday?

* Revised edition, Volume 1, Chapter 3.

  • Catholics are still supposed to fast on Friday
    – Greg Bala
    Jul 11, 2013 at 15:58
  • I've been taught that early Christians fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays as well as on other occasions, and this is still practiced in Eastern Orthodoxy today. But I have no good scholarly sources to back this up aside from brief (but not explicit) references to it by Gonzalez, Pelikan, and Payton.
    – Dan
    Jul 26, 2013 at 6:36
  • Eastern Orthodox (and I think Greek Catholics too) fast on Wednesdays and Fridays and some other opportunities. Roman Catholic fast on Fridays and some other opportunities. Protestants fast when they want and as often they want (usually not regularly). So regular weekly fasting was likely abandoned during reformation and observed all the time before, since the death of Jesus (before the disciples had the groom with them, so no reason to fast). But I have no solid sources for this.
    – Pavel
    Aug 1, 2013 at 19:30

1 Answer 1


As far as we can tell, Christian twice-weekly fasting was based on Jewish twice-weekly fasting. Given the later tension between Jews and Christians, this makes an early adoption date likely.

Further evidence comes from the Didache (dating probably to the first century):

Your fasts should not be with the hypocrites, for they fast on Mondays and Thursdays. You should fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. (8.1)

This passage seems to indicate that a formal twice-weekly fast was the norm—a practice which appears to be analogous to (but distinct from) the Jewish practice.

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