Fasting as an Ecclesiastical Notion

The Greek word for fasting, “νηστεία”, is complex. It consists of the particle “νη”, which indicates deprivation, and the verb “εσθίω”, which means “eating”. So the Greek word for fasting means total abstinence from all food. Today, however, fasting means abstaining from certain foods. This led to the creation of two words: νηστήσιμος (pro-fasting) and αρτύσιμος (non-fasting). That is, there are foods we can eat during a fast which are called νηστήσιμες, and there are foods we can’t eat which are called αρτύσιμες.

November 15: The Nativity Fast Begins

Today we enter into the period often called Advent. This is the period set aside for us to prepare for the coming of Christ. Our way of preparing for the significant events in the life of Christ is to fast. The Advent, or Nativity fast, is seen as a lighter fast than Great Lent, but especially today it is a most important one. Why? Because of the craziness of the period that precedes Christmas. It is filled with secular images and activities so that too often we lose the notion that we are dong all this to prepare for the Nativity of our Lord and God and Savior is lost.