Today, November 15, marks forty days until Christmas and in the Greek Orthodox Calendar, the Nativity Fast begins.
The Nativity Fast is like the fast of Easter Lent, but not quite as strict.
The Nativity Fast is one of four main fast periods throughout the ecclesiastical year. Beginning on November 15 and concluding on December 24, the Nativity Fast gives individuals the opportunity to prepare for the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior in the Flesh on December 25.
This is the time in the Orthodox Church where our attention is drawn to the great mystery of the Incarnation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We await his coming in anticipation of the great joy of His birth on Christmas Day. For our preparation, the wisdom of our Church asks us to participate in a fast, with all the inconvenience and discomfort it may bring.
By abstaining from certain food and drink, particularly from meat, fish, dairy products, olive oil, and wine, as well as focusing more deeply on prayer and almsgiving.
The fast usually involves fasting from certain foods. Eggs, dairy, poultry, red meat, meat products, oil, fish and wine are all abstained from. However, some of these foods are allowed at certain times for most fasters. On Saturday and Sunday, fish, oil, and wine are acceptable to consume. Oil and wine is also allowed on Tuesday and Thursday, with some exceptions. Fish, wine and oil are allowed on November 16, November 30, December 4, 6, 12, and 20. No fish may be consumed from December 20-24, and hymns are sung during this time. Shellfish may be allowed even on days that exempt fish except for these.
After the Christmas Eve service in Greece, it is tradition to come home from church to break the fast. This is their first time they are able to eat certain foods, and the people definitely make the most of it by enjoying a lavish meal.
This is a time for all to prepare spiritually and physically and allow Jesus into our lives.
Happy Nativity Fast to all.