Nativity Fast

The Nativity Fast is a period of abstinence and penance practiced by the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches, in preparation for the Nativity of Jesus, (December 25). [1] The corresponding Western season of preparation for Christmas, which also has been called the Nativity Fast [2] and St. Martin's Lent, has taken the name of Advent. The Eastern fast runs for 40 days instead of four ( Roman rite) or six weeks ( Ambrosian rite) and thematically focuses on proclamation and glorification of the Incarnation of God, whereas the Western Advent focuses on the two comings (or advents) of Jesus Christ: his birth and his Second Coming or Parousia.

The Byzantine fast is observed from November 15 to December 24, inclusively. These dates apply to those Orthodox Churches which use the Revised Julian calendar, which currently matches the Gregorian calendar. For those Eastern Orthodox Churches which still follow the Julian calendar ( Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Russian Orthodox Church, Serbian Orthodox Church, Georgian Orthodox Church, Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Macedonian Orthodox Church, and Mount Athos), the Winter Lent does not begin until November 28 (Gregorian) which coincides with November 15 on the Julian calendar. The Ancient Church of the East fasts dawn til dusk from the 1st December until the 25th of December on the Gregorian calendar.

Sometimes the fast is called Philip's Fast (or the Philippian Fast), as it traditionally begins on the day following the Feast of St. Philip the Apostle (November 14). Some churches, such as the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, have abbreviated the fast to start on December 10, following the Feast of the Conception by Saint Anne of the Most Holy Theotokos.

The purpose of fasting

Through the discipline of fasting, practiced with humility and repentance, it is believed that by learning to temper the body's primary desire for food, that other worldly desires can be more easily tempered as well. Through this practice one is better enabled to draw closer to God in the hope of becoming more Christ-like. While the fast influences the body, it is important to note that emphasis is placed on the spiritual facet of the fast rather than mere physical deprivation. Orthodox theology sees a synthesis between the body and the soul, so what happens to one affects the other. The church teaches that it is not enough to fast from food; one must also fast from anger, greed and covetousness. In addition to fasting, almsgiving is also emphasized. [3]

Other Languages
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Піліпаўка
ქართული: შობის მარხვა
slovenčina: Filipovka
svenska: Adventsfasta
українська: Пилипівський піст