I've written before about the Nativity fast kept by our Eastern Christian brethren. From November 15th to December 12, Eastern Christians fast from meat, dairy and eggs. On December 13th, they add to that list, fish, olive oil and wine and continue that until Christmas Eve.
In some ways, our Western practice of Advent, with its penitential violet vestments, reflects this, but we have given up the practice of fasting during this time.
With Christmas being a largely secular, money-making holiday today, the idea of fasting during what most people consider the "Christmas Season" is horrifying. In fact, the Christmas Season begins on December 24th and lasts until at least January 6th, the feast of the Epiphany (Thus, "The 12 Days of Christmas").
Fasting before the great feasts of the year is a way to focus our attention on what is important in preparation for marking a spiritually important part of our lives.
What can we fast from in this time of preparation before Christmas? Television? The internet? News? Cynicism? Hatred? Prejudice? Fatty or sugary foods? Eating out?
What should we feast on as we celebrate Thanksgiving in the U.S? Thankfulness is the obvious thing that comes to mind. Mindfulness is another. Try reading the daily readings either at Universalis or, my favorite, Divine Office. There is nothing like ending the day crying out to God with David and the Church through the psalms.
Give it some thought before the 15th, and before the start of Advent in the Western Church. How will you prepare for the birth of Christ this year?