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  Friday, December 13, 2019
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Monday marks the beginning of the 40-day Russian Orthodox Christmas Fast
Monday marks the beginning of the 40-day Russian Orthodox Christmas Fast, one of four lengthy fasts on the Orthodox calendar. "It is a light and happy Fast that prepares the Orthodox for the great Christmas holiday," said Mikhail Dudko, a Moscow church spokesman. "The Christmas Fast is nearly as long as the Great Fast [before Easter], but it is less strict." The fast, which ends on Orthodox Christmas, January 7, allows the faithful to eat fish, except on Wednesdays and Fridays, but bans meat, milk and eggs. Like other religious fasts, it is designed to purify the soul from passion and sinful thoughts and to subdue the body and the soul to the spirit. Since ancient times, people suffering from grave diseases, pregnant and breastfeeding women, soldiers, physical labor workers and those traveling were allowed not to keep to the diet, but had to make up for days lost later on. According to Dudko, one of the problems today is that Christmas in Russia is marked on the Old style, or the Julian calendar, while New Year is celebrated on the New Style, or the Gregorian calendar. "Many clergymen allow their parishioners to have a glass of wine on New Year's," Dudko said. Kremlin property department spokesman Viktor Khrekov said a special menu had been compiled in Kremlin buffets for the fast and that Kremlin chefs would offer a choice of up to eight fast meals daily. "Those who choose to fast will be able to select from among vegetarian meals," Khrekov said, adding that there would be about 40 different meals served during the fast. According to Khrekov, Kremlin chefs and catering specialists had to consult the Moscow department of the Russian Orthodox Church because the fast goes through several periods of different diets. The Kremlin buffets have had special fast menus for several years, including during the Great Fast in the run-up to Easter.
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