The Philippian Fast
November 15 - December 24
THE PHILIPPIAN FAST – On November 15, forty days before Christmas, the Byzantine Church
begins to prepare for the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord. During these forty days, we prepare to
celebrate the coming (therefore Advent, which means coming or arrival) of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, into
this world. Many faithful people had waited a long time for the coming of Jesus. During this long period of
time, God spoke to prophets and instructed them how He wanted His people to prepare for the coming
of His Son.
He told them that they need to repent, change their way of living, make peace with one
another, care for each other, and be obedient and faithful to God.
Similarly, every year during this fortyday period we are invited to prepare in like manner as we await Christ’s arrival.
The Church helps us get ready for this very special celebration of Christ’s birth. First, the Church issues
an announcement, much like an invitation, letting us know that the Feast of the Nativity is approaching.
Then, during the this forty-day period there are additional announcements made which instruct us on
how to get ready and focus our attention as the feast approaches. Here are some of the days on which
these announcements are made:
This is the day of a major feast which commemorates the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple. It
marks the first announcement that is given in the Church of the coming of Christ. During Matins on that
day, the words “Christ is born! Glorify Him!” are sung for the first time.
The last day of November is the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle. Noteworthy is that during the services
commemorating the life of St. Andrew, the Church weaves in additional hymns which tell us what will
happen on the day of Christ’s birth.
This day is dedicated to the memory of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker. During the services on this day,
we are reminded again of how the whole earth prepares to glorify the birth of Jesus.
The Two Sundays Before Christmas
The first of these two Sundays is called the Sunday of the Forefathers. The verses from the services on
this day tell us how the people of the Old Testament prepared for the coming of the Saviour. The second
Sunday is the Sunday of the Fathers which repeats a lot of the hymnography that was sung on the Sunday
of the Forefathers.