The feast is preceded by 14 days of strict [[fasting]], with the exceptions that fish is eaten on the Feast of the [[Transfiguration]] ([[August 6]]). On weekdays before the feast, either the [[Great Paraklesis]] (service of supplication) or the [[Small Paraklesis]] is celebrated.
On the eve of the feast, [[Vespers]] is served and contains three [[Old Testament]] readings that have [[New Testament]] meaning. In [[Genesis]] 28:10-17, Jacob's Ladder which unites heaven and earth points to the union of God with men which is realized most fully and perfectly in Mary the bearer of God. "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!" In [[Book of Ezekiel|Ezekiel]] 43:27-44:4, the vision of the temple with the door to the East perpetually closed and filled with the glory of the Lord, symbolizes Mary. And in [[Proverbs]] 9:1-11, Mary is also identified with the "house" which the Divine Wisdom has built for herself.
Sometimes [[Matins]] is served on the morning of the feast. The Gospel reading is from [[Gospel of Luke|Luke]] 1:39-49, 56. It is read on all feasts of the Theotokos and includes the [[Magnificat|Theotokos' saying]]: "My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden, for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed."