Orthodox Christians fast for many reasons. Whether it is in anticipation of the Great Lent, or in preparation for Vespers, they are compelled by the tradition to go without food and drink for a period of time. During this time, Christians should not only be mindful of their physical needs, but also their spiritual ones. This is especially important during the season of Advent, when the Church is getting ready to celebrate the birth of Christ. During these times, fasting can help to keep one’s spirit strong.
Vespers, also known as Evensong, is an evening service of the Orthodox Church. The service is held around sunset. It is the first of the divine services of the Daily Cycle of divine services. In some parts of the world, Vespers is served on Sunday.
A typical Vespers hymn is sung at the end of the service. The hymn may vary by feast. If it is a special hymn, it usually ends with the Theotokion song. These hymns were originally written in Latin and Aramaic. However, many of the texts have been translated into English.
Hymns have changed over the years. They are now sung in plainsong verse. For example, the hymn “Lord, I Have Called Unto You” is sung less often.
Lent is a period of forty days, which is followed by Easter, which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. It is a time of increased prayer, almsgiving, and fasting. During the week leading up to the Easter holidays, many Orthodox Christians also practice the observance of the Holy Week.
The first Sunday of Great Lent is known as Orthodox Sunday. On this day, Christians commemorate the restoration of icons and iconodules against iconoclasts. This is followed by the start of the Great Fast.
During the Fast, Orthodox Christians abstain from certain products, such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. There are four fasting plans for the year, each maintaining continuity in the Church’s traditions. Among them is the Basic Fasting Level, which is recommended for those who do not regularly fast.
In the Orthodox Church, the Nativity fast is a 40-day fast that starts 40 days before Christmas. It is a celebration of the birth of the Savior. During this period, people abstain from eating meat, dairy products, wine, oil and gambling.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Nativity fast is usually one of the longest fasts. The first day of the fast is November 15. It is not as strict as Great Lent and the Dormition Fast, but it is still a serious discipline. Throughout the year, Orthodox Christians should fast on Wednesdays and Fridays.
On December 25, the feast of the Nativity of Christ is celebrated by many churches. The hymns of the Nativity are chanted every day.
Levels of fasting
In the Orthodox Church, fasting is considered a spiritual discipline. It is a means to guard against evil thoughts, deeds, and actions. Practicing true fasting requires repentance and love for others.
Fasting practices have evolved over the centuries in the Orthodox world. Although there is a large regional variation in fasting, the spirit of fasting has remained the same.
The practice of fasting traces its roots to pre-Christian Judaic observances. During the Old Testament, Israelites observed a regular fast on Mondays and Thursdays for various reasons. Among those were mourning over the dead and seeking help from God.
Orthodox Christians usually observe three types of fasting. Each type involves abstaining from a different food group.
Strict fasts involve excluding all meat, dairy products, and oil. Some areas permit eggs and canola oil to be consumed. If you have questions about the appropriate level of fasting for you, consult your priest.
The Orthodox Church has a number of fast days throughout the year. These are generally Wednesday and Friday. On some other days of the week, they allow a glass of wine.
If you are unsure about a certain fast day, you should seek the guidance of a spiritual father. This is especially important during the holy week.
The traditional fast is forty days. Fasting during this period is meant to help you control gluttony. It is also meant to help you develop spiritual growth. Traditionally, you should fast from meat, cheese, and alcohol.
There are other types of fasts as well. During the Triodion period, you should fast from meat, dairy products, and oil. You should also avoid dancing and secular music.