How to fast? The priest - about divine services, mercy and a New Year's table
The Christmas fast begins at the end of November and ends with the Feast of the Nativity of Christ. Especially for "AiF Orenburg" priest Maxim Malyuta told about the peculiarities of this period.

Preparation for the meeting


The end of November for an Orthodox believer is the beginning of a very long Christmas fast. It begins on November 28 after the day of the memory of the apostle Philip, by virtue of this, some call him Filippov.

Covering the topic of Orthodox fasts, it is customary to talk about the gastronomic component of this period. What you can eat, what you can not and what is not the matter at all, but in abstinence. All this is repeated by Orthodox clergymen from year to year before the beginning of each post, but I would like to say about the peculiarities of the Christmas fast. How is it different from others? What is its special content? And is there anyway?

Christmas fasting, like all other days of many days, prepares believers for a special big holiday. In this case, for the Nativity of Christ. Through abstinence, a person cuts off in his soul all that prevents him from being with Christ, making it more pure and free from earthly attachments. That is, fasting is preparation for a meeting with Christ, which is most manifest in the sacrament of the Sacrament.

Remember those who are lonely


However, despite the similarity in the duration of the Nativity Fast with the Lent (both last about forty days), these two fasts are quite unlike due to one of the most important component of religious life - the liturgical.

If the Lent is rich in special penitential services: "The Penitential Canon of Andrew of Crete", a liturgy of pre-consecrated gifts, the Christmas fast in the liturgical relation does not differ much from the usual period of the year. And this is very inconvenient for the fasting man. If in the Latter-day period the church charter through the service somehow helps maintain a special spiritual spirit for a long time, then in the Christmas fasting, a person does not have such liturgical support. Perhaps this is due to the fact that for a long time, until the 12th century, the Christmas fast for the laity lasted only a week before Christmas. Since the middle of the 13th century, this post has already acquired the form in which we now know it. The fasting people have to find the means for themselves to preserve their spiritual mood in the direction of abstinence and a special prayer. It can be more frequent visiting of divine services, allocation of more time for reading the Holy Scripture and Patristic creations. For sure, everyone has a book from the Bible or the creations of the Holy Fathers, which he would like to read for a long time, but it did not work out in any way. Christmas fasting is a good reason to implement such a useful idea.

Just during the Christmas fast, you can take on a small feat of helping your neighbors. Remembering those who are lonely, needs moral and material support. After all, many have distant relatives or friends who need just human attention, and the opportunity to provide such help was not provided for. A Christmas post can fix this.

But what about the New Year?


A special test for believers during the Christmas Lent is the celebration of the New Year. According to the old calendar style, Christmas is celebrated on December 25 and comes before the arrival of the New Year. However, the decision of the Bolshevik authorities to move to a new style introduced a problem during the Christmas period. When for believers the period of pre-holiday preparation still lasts, for a secular society New Year's holidays are already booming.

Again, the believer has to come out on his own or with the help of a confessor out of the established calendar dilemma, since the church charter does not imply any indulgence during the New Year holidays and does not formalize them in some way religiously.

Nevertheless, the solutions to this problem of Christmas fast have relatively recently begun to appear. In many churches on New Year's Eve the night Divine Liturgy is served, went into wide use the prayer before the New Year. However, a significant number of believers still have many relatives and friends who do not fast in the Christmas fast and would like, according to tradition, to gather with the whole family at the New Year's festive table. And in this situation, it is not necessary to prioritize between relatives and the feat of the Christmas fast. If close people love and respect you, they will respect your faith and your post, which does not forbid you to congratulate your dear people with the entry into the new year.

The Christmas fast is, indeed, an important period for every Orthodox believer who helps prepare the soul for the encounter with the born-in-God Christ. However, due to various historical circumstances and traditions, this period has its own peculiarities and complexities, which are important to take into account. Otherwise, the Christmas post will turn into a Christmas diet. 

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