Nativity Fast Guidelines
The Nativity Fast is generally divided into two periods. November 15 to December 9 forms the first period where foods such as oil, wine, dairy products and meat are strictly exempted from consumption however, one is allowed to consume oil and wine on Tuesday and Thursday; fish, oil and wine on Saturday and Sunday. The second period of fasting lies between December 10th to 24th where all aforementioned foods are again barred from regular consumption, however, consumption of oil and wine is permitted on Saturday and Sunday for this period.
According to the Eastern Orthodox Church, fasting includes non-intake of fish, oil, eggs, dairy products, red meat, poultry, meat products and wine. The rules allow one to consume oil, wine and fish feast on certain feast days, namely Evangelist Matthew, Apostle Andrew, Great-martyr Barbara, St. Nicholas, St. Spiridon, St. Herman and St. Ignatius. A strict fast day called Paramony is observed on the eve of Nativity where no solid food is taken till the first star is noticed in the evening sky.
The Purpose Of Fasting
- The purpose of fasting is to raise one's consciousness level from mundane to the spiritual. The practice of abstinence is seen as a way to end our utter reliance on materialism.
- Fasting enables one to take a righteous path and practice virtuous deeds during the holy month and set an example for others to follow and benefit from.
- Fasting is not meant as a way of appeasing God or divine, instead its main purpose is to contain our own shortcomings, passions and non-virtuous thoughts and deeds.
- By fasting, one seeks to achieve control over one's own mind which is the ultimate goal of the practice.
- Saying prayers during fasting period helps in the overall practice of delving in virtuous thoughts.