For Orthodox believers tomorrow starts six-weeks of Christmas fast, which precedes the most joyous Christian feast of the Nativity of Christ – Christmas.
Preparation for Christmas, which is celebrated on the 7th of January, is complete if believer approaches the sacraments of confession, repentance and communion in the end of six weeks long fast.
Fast is the foundation of Christian path and the first necessity in the way of salvation, and the Church considers fast for a very important and significant institution for the spiritual life of its believers, as well as a very powerful tool to achieve the complete salvation.
According to the interpretation of Bishop Nikolaj Velimirovic, the fast is consisted in refraining from certain kinds of food, evil thoughts, lustful desires and bad deeds, as well as the multiplication of prayers, blessings and diligent practice of Christian virtues, because the goal of the fast is both physical and spiritual.
The goals are, according to Bishop Nikolaj, “cleansing of the body, strengthening of the will, and the rise of the soul over the body, and all for the purpose of glorifying God and respect of his saints.” The fast is based on the example of Jesus Christ, who fasted on bread and water for 40 days before he faced Satan.
During this fast is permitted use of oil on every day except Wednesday and Friday, when believers eat food prepared on water. Fish and wine can be used every Saturday and Sunday, as well as on the Feast of the Presentation of the Holy Virgin / 4th of December /, St. Nicholas / 19th of December / and St. Ignatius of Antioch / 2nd of January /, even if the holiday falls on Wednesday or Friday.
Last week before Christmas, the fast is more strict and without the use of fish or oil, with food prepared only on the water. The Church ordered several days of fast four times per year – Christmas, Easter or Holy Eve of the Resurrection of Christ, Petrovski before the holiday dedicated to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul / 12th of July / and every Wednesday and Friday, with the exception of so-called fast free weeks.