Guidelines for the Nativity Fast 2017

The Nativity Fast begins November 15.  By asking us to enter into a fast of preparation for the Nativity of Christ, the tradition of the Church points us toward the profundity of the Incarnation, asking us to create an open space within ourselves, ready to receive the gift of His coming anew.

Following are the guidelines for the Nativity fast.  These guidelines are general, reflecting what the average person may reasonably be expected to attain, but some will need to adjust the specifics due to particular health issues, pregnancy, or in consideration of age (young children and the elderly).  In such cases, the fast may be adjusted in an intentional, planned manner, asking the advice and blessing of your spiritual father.  And we must remember that fasting does not stand alone, but is entered into within the fuller context of  prayer, spiritual reading, attendance at divine services, and almsgiving.


MONDAYsWEDNESDAYs, and FRIDAYs of this fast are Strict Fast days. On these days we abstain from meat, dairy, fish with backbones, fowl, alcoholic beverages, and olive oil.

TUESDAYs and THURSDAYs of the fast are Wine and Oil days. On these days the fasting discipline is relaxed to permit wine and olive oil.

SATURDAYs and SUNDAYs of the fast are Fish, Wine, and Oil days. On these days the fast is relaxed even more to permit fish with backbones in addition to wine and oil.

Foods that are permitted on all days include vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, and shellfish.

DECEMBER 20 – 24

During the forefeast of the Nativity, from December 20-24, our fasting is more strict. Each weekday that falls during this period is generally kept as a Strict Fast day, while any Saturday or Sunday is observed as a Wine and Oil day, but no fish.

The Eve of the Feast, December 24, however, is always kept as a Strict Fast day, even should it fall on a weekend.

Foods that are permitted on all days include vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, and shellfish.


THANKSGIVING DAY — Our bishops have decreed that the faithful of the Antiochian Archdiocese in the USA may relax the fast entirely to observe the national celebration of Thanksgiving Day.

The feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the TempleNovember 21, is always kept as a Fish, Wine, and Oil day, no matter what day of the week it falls on.

In addition, when the following days fall on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, or during the forefeast, they are nevertheless relaxed to be Wine and Oil days due to the commemorations observed:

  • DEC 04 – Greatmartyr Barbara of Heliopolis and Venerable John of Damascus

  • DEC 06 – Nicholas the Wonderworker, Bishop of Myra in Lycia

  • DEC 20 – Hieromartyr Ignatius of Antioch, the God-seer


◊ Content of this post adapted from

Fasting Guidelines: Nativity Fast 2017