It is common knowledge that we observe Lent before Easter; but did you know that there is also a Nativity Fast before Christmas called Pylypivka or Philip’s Fast? It always begins the day after the Feast of St. Philip (Nov. 15/28) and lasts through Christmas Eve.

The Latin Rite Catholic Church observes a 28-day period of joyous anticipation of Christmas called Advent. Pylypivka lasts longer – 40 days – and has a more serious tone to it. Yet, both have the same goals: to prepare spiritually for Christ’s Nativity, the “Incarnation,” when God is born in the flesh.

We get ready for His Nativity during Pylypivka through the complementary actions of increased prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Fasting is an act of will and a form of self-denial which, when combined with prayer, increases our spiritual awareness. Our Church prescribes a strict fast (no meat or dairy products) on the first and last days of the Fast. Ideally, we should abstain from meat on all Wednesdays and Fridays.

Prayer and fasting naturally leads to almsgiving – expressing love for others in practical form, like visiting the lonely and offering acts of kindness to those in need. The money saved by eating less can be used to help the poor.

Though less strict than Great Lent, Pylypivka can be a greater challenge to observe given the many “Christmas parties” at that time of the year. Daily prayer can help strengthen our resolve to resist the temptation to join secular holiday celebrations and wait until Christmas to begin feasting and merry-making.

Involve your children in all aspects of Pylypivka. For more information on how to do this, read through and print up a copy of the “Pylypivka Action Plan,” which includes scripture readings, reflections and activities for each week of the fast.

Article by Presbytera Iryna Galadza,

Pylypivka (St. Philip Fast) Family Action Plan