After posting a blurb or two on Sunday about the Nativity Fast, I was surprised that so many people showed an interest in learning more about what we do! I've copied and pasted the questions that I saw asked (if I missed yours, I do apologize... leave me another comment under this post and I will add it and my answer to this post).
Do you have to follow the dietary rules when breastfeeding?
In the Orthodox Church, there are many different levels of fasting. Here is an article on the Fasting Rule in the Orthodox Church. It is important to note that every individual and family does things a bit differently. The Church is very flexible, but encourages people to talk to their priest or spiritual father when making a decision on how to keep the fasts. My husband and I consulted our spiritual father when we were pregnant with our first child and decided together that it would be best if I tried to eliminate meat from my diet during Lenten seasons that fell during my pregnancies and the time I was nursing. However, if my doctor suggested that I needed to eat meat, I would do it!
When does your Advent start?
Today (November 15)!
What will you be eating throughout your fast?
I am able to eat anything but meat and meat products. My husband follows a more strict rule (no meat or dairy the entire fast and he'll only eat fish on feast days).
Does your young one fast as well?
Our daughter pretty much eats whatever I eat. We don't mind if she has a little meat though (on Thanksgiving she'll probably have some turkey and gravy at our family's get-together). Interestingly enough though, she loves fasting types of foods!
Does the term "Lenten seasons" include Advent?
Yes! There are four main Lenten seasons in the Orthodox Church: Great Lent (the fast before Easter), The Apostles Fast (the fast before Saints Peter and Paul's Fest day -June 29), The Dormition Fast (the fast in honor of the Mother of God's repose), and The Nativity Fast (Advent or Christmas Lent).
Is there a particular reason why your season starts today?
Yes. November 15th is exactly forty days before Christmas (The number 40 is very significant Biblically as it represents fullness).
What are the "fasting types of foods" that you little one likes?
She loves shrimp (with cocktail sauce of all things!), any kind of soup, pastas, beans, fish (when it's a fish day;)), fruits, salsa (even the spicy kind!) and corn chips, and veggies. If it's on her father's plate, she's all over it!
One more follow-up question - if I'm doing my math correctly, 40 days after November 15 is December 25. I've heard that "Orthodox Christmas" is in January. I assume these are different churches/branches?
Some Orthodox Christians are on the "new calendar (Gregorian)" and some are on the "old calendar (Julian)". The Gregorian Calendar is the calendar that we use in the world today and some Orthodox Christians are on it (we are, which is why we celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December) while some Orthodox Christians are on the Julian Calendar (my parents and siblings are on this one) and celebrate Christmas thirteen days later on January 7th. Many times, January 7th is called "Russian Christmas."
Here is a second article on The Meaning of Fasting in the Orthodox Church.
Aleksei Evstigniev: The Donskoy Monastery