In the Orthodox churches of the Byzantine tradition, the Christmas fast is one of the four many-day fasts of the church year and serves as a 40-day preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Christ.
Christmas fast is observed from November 28 to January 6 inclusive and ends with the feast of the Nativity of Christ on January 7. The conspiracy (the eve of the Lent on November 27) falls on the feast day of the holy Apostle Philip (the apostle Philip martyredly ended his earthly journey – he was crucified upside down), which is why the post is also called Philippov.
This post is less strict than the Great and Assumption Lent, because according to the charter on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday it is allowed to eat with vegetable oil, and on other days without oil (dry eating). Meat, eggs and dairy products are excluded during the Christmas Lent, and fish is allowed only on Saturdays and Sundays and great holidays, for example, on the feast of the Entry into the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on temple holidays and on the days of great saints. From January 2 to January 6, fasting is strengthened, and on these days even on Saturdays and Sundays the fish are not blessed.
There are some subtleties in observing the Christmas fast. For example, on January 6, or Christmas Eve, the previous forty-day fast is strengthened and it is forbidden to eat until the end of the service or, as the people said, “to the star”, after which they take the so-called “Sochi.” Porridge made from boiled grains of peas, beans or lentils (“outers”) mixed with seed juice or “milk” – “oats” (almonds, walnuts, poppy seeds, hemp) was called juice. From the words “compassionately”, “nomad”, the very name of the Christmas Eve came. In more ancient times, an “uzvar” was also prepared from dried apples, pears, plums, raisins or cherries. Soothing and boil are the main traditional Christmas Eve dishes.
Every year, there are more and more fasting Russians, and they usually have two questions – how to withstand such a long period without protein food and can Orthodox Christians celebrate New Year? After all, there is a post, and in Russia, because of the difference between the church (Julian) calendar and the secular (Gregorian), we celebrate the New Year before Christmas. Priests usually answer this way: you can celebrate the New Year, only you should avoid stormy fun and plentiful libations, and it is better to make the table as fast as possible. Fasting should be most strictly observed in the last week before Christmas – from January 1 to 6.
However, to withstand the entire 40-day period of fasting, even with temporary relief, is very difficult. Of course, fasting is not only abstinence from food; during this period, entertainment and entertainment are not allowed, because fasting is also “removal from evil, curbing the tongue, putting off anger, taming lusts, stopping slander, lies and oath-crimes”. Nevertheless, the expansion of the assortment of permissible fasting products, which has become available in recent years, has allowed many fasting people to withstand the entire period of fasting and by the feast of the Nativity of Christ “to cleanse ourselves with repentance, prayer and fasting, so that with a pure heart, soul and body reverently greet those who appeared in the world The Son of God. ”
The Russians have already accumulated considerable experience with such abstinence, using a wide range of vegetarian foods in their diet. And if at the beginning of the 20th century such lean products as hemp, almond and poppy milk were popular in Russia, then in our time they were replaced by soy milk and products based on it (yogurts, sour cream, mayonnaise, tofu and other vegetable dairy products) as well as a variety of vegetarian convenience foods and dry soy products. Their everyday use, despite the absence of animal products in the human diet, allows not only to supplement and diversify the table during fasting, but also not to reduce the level of intake of basic nutrients and their quality.