Beginning of the Nativity Fast in the Eastern Orthodox Church Date in the current year: November 28, 2022

Beginning of the Nativity Fast in the Eastern Orthodox Church The Nativity Fast is one of the two longest fasts in the Eastern Orthodox Church, the other one being Great Lent (both last forty days). It begins on November 15 on the Julian calendar, which corresponds to November 28 on the Gregorian calendar.

Fasting is an important spiritual discipline for Eastern Orthodox Christians, which is seen as purification and the regaining of innocence. They observe four major fasting seasons (Great Lent, the Nativity Fast, the Apostles Fast, and the Dormition Fast) and also fast on certain feasts (the Elevation of the Holy Cross, the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, Epiphany), as well as on Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year.

There are eight degrees of fasting in the Eastern Orthodox Church:

  • complete abstinence from any food (for example, on Good Friday);
  • xerophagy (eating only dry lenten food; for example, on the Wednesday of the first week of Great Lent);
  • eating boiled food without vegetable oil (for example, on the Friday of the first week of Great Lent);
  • xerophagy, but wine is permitted (for example, when the Feast of the Annunciation falls coincides with Good Friday);
  • eating boiled lenten food with vegetable oil, wine is permitted (for example, on the Feast of Orthodoxy);
  • eating fish roe, lenten food with vegetable oil, wine is permitted, but fish is prohibited (for example, on Lazarus Saturday);
  • eating fish, lenten food with vegetable oil, wine is permitted (for example, on the Feast of Transfiguration);
  • eating all dairy products, eggs, fish, vegetable oil, wine is permitted, but meat is prohibited (for example, on the last Saturday before Great Lent).

While the length of Western Advent (pre-Christmas season) may vary depending on what day of the week Christmas falls on, the Nativity Fast in Eastern Christianity is always observed from November 15 to December 24 on the Julian calendar, or from November 28 to January 6 on the Gregorian calendar. The Nativity Fast in the Eastern Orthodox Church is sometimes referred to as Philip’s Fast, because it begins on the day following the feast day of Philip the Apostle.

During the Nativity Fast, people are supposed to abstain from all kinds of meat and meat products, dairy products, and eggs at all times. Fish, oil and wine are prohibited on some days; it is permitted to consume oil and wine on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and fish, oil and wine on Saturdays, Sundays and certain feast days. Ideally, people should also abstain from sexual intercourse, gambling, frivolous entertainment, and swearing. People whose health doesn’t allow them to observe a strict fast aren’t expected to.

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Religious Holidays

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