Sunday, October 22, 2017 UTC


20120502_St_Philip_Bethsaida  The Phillip’s Fast is a strict fast on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with a lesser fast mitigated for fish and wine on Tuesdays and Thursdays. With Saturday and Sundays fast free. It culminates with a Holy Supper on Christmas Eve.

The Phillip’s Fast begins at sundown on November 14th (when the Church begins a new day) and concludes at Christmas. On November 14, Eastern Christian communities are celebrating the Feast of St. Philip, the Apostle, which also marks the beginning of the traditional St. Philip’s Fast, 40 days before the Great Feast of the Nativity of Christ. The 40 days are a reflection of the “Great Fast” before Pascha, Easter, the greatest Feast of the Church with the same purpose: prayerful preparation for the celebration of the great feast to come. According to legend, St. Philip the Apostle called down the wrath of God upon those who were torturing him to death. As a penance for presuming on the vengeance of God, it was revealed to him by an angel that he would not enter paradise until forty days after his death. Philip then sent word to the other living Apostles and begged them to fast for forty days after his death.

St. Phillip the Apostle, born in Bethsaida on the shore of the Lake of Tiberias, the place of origin of Andrew and Peter. He was called in Galilee after Jesus had been baptized by the Forerunner John. In the Gospel Phillip brought Jesus the 5 loaves of bread of which Jesus used along with 5 fish to feed 5000. Phillip is doubtful that Jesus can do this but Jesus does it anyway. Phillip is known as the patron saint of bakers and hatters.

To count the long days until Christmas, Eastern Christians have a number of beautiful customs. A candle holder in the shape of a six-pointed Star of David holds six red candles to be lit for each week before Christmas and one white Christ candle in the center to be lit on Christmas Eve. A 40-day Advent Calendar gives children a surprise for each day before Christmas.  A “St. Philip’s Chain” is made out of strips of paper containing  good deeds or prayers offered by children during the fast. At the end of the fast, it can be used to decorate the Christmas Tree.

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