The Nativity Fast – Fasting Rule
The Nativity of our Lord is celebrated on December 25 (OS)/January 7. In preparation for the incarnation of Christ, we fast for six weeks. The Nativity Fast is one of four main fast periods throughout the ecclesiastical year. Beginning on November 28th (November 15 OS) and concluding on January 6 (December 24 OS), 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. 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, we can find that the primary aim of fasting is to make us conscious of our dependence upon God, as discussed in our earlier readings.
What is the rule of abstinence for the Nativity fast?
Remembering that fasting traditions vary by jurisdiction and even local tradition, the following rules are applicable in our vicariate. All dates below are based on the civil (new) calendar.
November 28 – December 24
Wednesday and Fridays are strict fast (no fish, oil or wine allowed)
Other weekdays oil and wine are allowed. Abstain from fish, meat and dairy.
Saturday and Sundays – Fish, oil and wine allowed.
December 4 – Fish, oil and wine allowed (Feast of the Holy Entrance)
December 8 – Wine and oil allowed (Great Martyr Catherine)
December 17 – Wine and oil allowed (Great Martyr Barbara)
December 22 – Wine and oil allowed (Conception of the Theotokos)
Week Before Nativity
January 1-4 – Wine and oil allowed
January 5-6 – Strict Fast
General Advice for First Time Fasters
- Remember that the fast is a tool for your spiritual growth. Fasting only furthers our spiritual state when we combine it with ascetical practices such as increased prayer, giving of alms, attendance at services and spiritual reading. Before the start of the fast, review the handout on the theological basis of fasting and some of the commentary of the Church Fathers.
- Avoid legalism. Don’t read labels. Use common sense in choosing foods. Avoid overeating even if the meal is completely fast compliant.
- Talk to your priest in advance if you have any medical or dietary issues that may impact your ability to fast.
- If you fall, get back up and make a new start! Don’t beat yourself up, just go forward. The only failure is when you don’t get up!