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Why are the Greek and Romanian calendars so different for the Nativity fast?

jmbejdl

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I always used to assume that the differences in fasting practices that we find in different churches were just along the lines of whether beer is considered wine or oil means every type of vegetable oil i.e. on what exactly a strict fast entailed as opposed to whether a given day should be  a strict fast or not, but this year for the first time I've noticed that the actual calendars differ significantly. As both Romania and Greece are on the New Calendar I'd expected them to be extremely similar if not identical but in looking at the calendar available on the GOARCH website (I sometimes use it because it's in English) and comparing that with the Romanian calendar I see that for most days up until 12 December, fish is allowed on the Greek calendar whereas we have no days where fish is allowed until 21st November. Conversely, after 12 December it appears that the Greeks have no days where fish is allowed whereas we do have some fish days after that point. It's almost as though the two calendars are mirror images of one another with regards to this fast.

Does anyone know why that would be? I'm asking this purely out of curiosity as I hadn't previously been aware such differences existed.

James
 

ag_vn

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The Bulgarian calendar for Nativity fast is similar to the Romanian one. Fish is not allowed from 15 until 20 November and from 20 December until the end of the fast. From 21 November until 19 December it is allowed for all days with the exception of Wednesdays and Fridays.
 

IoanC

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When you are allowed to eat fish it is because of certain feasts that fall on those days. Could it be that Greece and Romania celebrate different local saints throughout the year?
 

IoanC

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Then again, the days we eat fish are sometimes major (universal) Feasts. By looking at the Romanian calendar it looks that there is at least one fish day every week, from the beginning to the end; is that what you have also? All I can think of is to analyze individual Feasts side by side.
 

Melodist

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IoanC said:
When you are allowed to eat fish it is because of certain feasts that fall on those days. Could it be that Greece and Romania celebrate different local saints throughout the year?
That's not it. I've seen it too when comparing two calendars from different jurisdictions side by side. For example, my OCA calendar allows for fish on every saturday and sunday and major comemorations during the nativity fast, but the one I got from the Antiochian church (the calendar itself was published my menologian.com) has fish allowed everyday except wednesday and friday up to dec 10 and then no fish allowed for the remainder of the fasting period. It's just a difference in how the fast is observed.
 

jmbejdl

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IoanC said:
When you are allowed to eat fish it is because of certain feasts that fall on those days. Could it be that Greece and Romania celebrate different local saints throughout the year?
It can't be the complete story, though it may be part of it. For example, the first day of the fast, the 14th, is a strict fast on the Romanian calendar but fish is allowed on the Greek one. In both cases the first two saints mentioned on the calendar are the Apostle St. Phillip and St. Gregory Palamas. Similarly on the forefeast of the presentation of the Theotokos, the Greek allows fish but the Romanian one only wine and oil.

James
 

jmbejdl

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IoanC said:
Then again, the days we eat fish are sometimes major (universal) Feasts. By looking at the Romanian calendar it looks that there is at least one fish day every week, from the beginning to the end; is that what you have also? All I can think of is to analyze individual Feasts side by side.
No, there is no fish allowed on any day in the first week on the Romanian calendar for this year. The first day fish is allowed is on 21st November.

James
 

IoanC

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jmbejdl said:
IoanC said:
Then again, the days we eat fish are sometimes major (universal) Feasts. By looking at the Romanian calendar it looks that there is at least one fish day every week, from the beginning to the end; is that what you have also? All I can think of is to analyze individual Feasts side by side.
No, there is no fish allowed on any day in the first week on the Romanian calendar for this year. The first day fish is allowed is on 21st November.

James
True, that's what I have also on my calendar. Then it looks there may something that the Greek Church does in particular, or vice-versa.
 

jmbejdl

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Melodist said:
IoanC said:
When you are allowed to eat fish it is because of certain feasts that fall on those days. Could it be that Greece and Romania celebrate different local saints throughout the year?
That's not it. I've seen it too when comparing two calendars from different jurisdictions side by side. For example, my OCA calendar allows for fish on every saturday and sunday and major comemorations during the nativity fast, but the one I got from the Antiochian church (the calendar itself was published my menologian.com) has fish allowed everyday except wednesday and friday up to dec 10 and then no fish allowed for the remainder of the fasting period. It's just a difference in how the fast is observed.
I'm sure you're right, but there must be some reason for it surely? I'm just interested in what that might be. I'm certainly not trying to imply that one is better than the other (in any case they seem about equally strict overall, just different), just curious as to why the differences exist.

James
 

ialmisry

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My old Calender for Egypt (EO, not Coptic) has fish for the whole of the Nativity Fast.
 

mabsoota

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is that including wednesdays and fridays, ialmisry?
ours (coptic) is fish every day except wednesdays and fridays and the day before Christmas, which this year on the old calendar is a sunday, so maybe we will be allowed fish this time.
it is confusing for everyone, so just do what your parish does!
and may all those on the new calendar have all the blessings of the fast, which starts today as far as i can tell.

God bless u all
 

Jonathan

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mabsoota said:
is that including wednesdays and fridays, ialmisry?
ours (coptic) is fish every day except wednesdays and fridays and the day before Christmas, which this year on the old calendar is a sunday, so maybe we will be allowed fish this time.
it is confusing for everyone, so just do what your parish does!
and may all those on the new calendar have all the blessings of the fast, which starts today as far as i can tell.

God bless u all
I'm pretty sure it's the opposite... when the paramouni (day before the feast) falls on a Sunday, strict fasting is extended back to the Friday before, so it becomes a 3 day period with no fish, with complete abstinence late into the day on the Friday because it isn't allowed on the Sat or Sunday, but maintaing the strict fast with no fish on all three days until the Nativity. I'm pretty sure that in this case, the same readings are read on all three days.

On the other hand, Copts were allowed fish on all Wed and Fri except during Lent, Pascha Week, and Nineveh until H.H. Pope Shenouda III changed it... So maybe we will be allowed fish this advent on every day except the 3 day paramouni...
 

mabsoota

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thanks for that. the rules of fasting just before Christmas and Theophany (epiphany/baptism of Jesus) are the ones i always get stuck on.
but the tightening of the restrictions under our dear pope shenouda 3rd was because previous leaders had allowed the fast to become lax. i think we should keep the fasts properly as our fathers did, because it benefitted them greatly and allowed the church to flourish and grow, and we need the same blessings today.
 

Jonathan Gress

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The tradition I know is that oil is allowed all days during the Nativity Fast, which starts on November 15th, except Wednesdays and Fridays (unless it's one of the feast days) and Christmas Eve (unless Christmas Eve is on Saturday or Sunday). Fish is allowed on November 21st and on Saturdays and Sundays from November 21st through December 12th, inclusive.
 

copticyouth93

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i would be shocked if Pope Tawadrous allowed fish on Wednesdays and Fridays..
 

mabsoota

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he won't. i have a very good feeling about pope tawadros and am excited about his enthronement in 5 days  :)

as for the EO nativity fast, it seems to be quite strict with regards to fish.
do you (EO) have special extra fasting for Christmas eve too?
 

Dominika

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I haven't known there is such kind of differences in fasting before Nativity in various jurisdictions... It's really like a mirror.

I have an idea for the reasons of these 2 types of perceiving St. Philip's fast.
The tradition I'm used to, is the longer Nativity Fast lasts, the fast is more strict, especially in the period of the Pre-feast, because it's a "prophecy" of the Holy Week, which is obviously is the most strict fast of the year.
The tradition of lighter fasting the days right before Christmas can be analogous to the liturgical texts - the longer Nativity Fast lasts, there are more and more prophecies about Bethlehem and so on, so the atmosphere becomes more and more joyous. I know in Latin Tradition there is similar situation - although the time from the 17th of December stills being period of penance, all is more joyous.

mabsoota said:
as for the EO nativity fast, it seems to be quite strict with regards to fish.
do you (EO) have special extra fasting for Christmas eve too?
Yes, on Christmas Eve there is a strict fast. Many people (majority? I know even not so religious people fasting on this day) don't eat and drink anything until sunset. In Slavic countries there is great and known tradition for special, holy supper after the day of strict fasting, that contains dishes we eat only this one eve during the year, and of course all of them are lenten.
 

mabsoota

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a non religious greek cypriot told me that on Christmas eve, her family always traditionally ate sheeps head.

i tried not to be  :eek:  and instead calmly asked if she thought it was derived from the fasting tradition, and instead of leaving the whole lamb till Christmas, people just left most of it.
sadly, she was not interested in a religious discussion, so i left her to think about it without putting any pressure on her.

if people know more about fasting (especially WHY we should fast) in slavic countries, then this is great.

:)
 
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