'''Fasting''' in the [[Orthodox Church]] is usually considered abstaining from certain foods during
fast days or periods. However, fasting means more than simply abstaining from foods. It includes refraining from evil actions and thoughts, and even [[marriage|marital]] relations.
Lenten periods===There are four main periods of fasting (lenten periods): :1 [[Great Lent]] is the period of six weeks before [[Palm Sunday]] as well as [[Holy Week]] in anticipation of that greatest of [[Great Feasts| feasts]]. :2 Advent, or the [[Nativity]] fast, is the period from [[November 15]] to [[December 24]] (forty days) in anticipation of [[Christmas]]. :3 The [[Apostles]]' fast is the period from the week following [[ Pentecost]] (a variable feast) to the [[feast day]] of Sts. [[Apostle Peter|Peter]] and [[Apostle Paul|Paul]] on [[June 29]]. :4 The [[Dormition]] fast is the period of the first two weeks of August in anticipation of the feast of the [[Dormition]] of the [[Theotokos]] .
===Preparation for receiving the Holy Eucharist===
Fasting is a part of the preparation for receiving the [[Eucharist|Body and Blood]] of [[Jesus Christ|Christ]]. Additionally, specific [[prayer]]s are
important in readying oneself. For morning [[Divine Liturgy|Liturgies]], one abstains from meat after the preceding [[Vespers]], and keeps a strict fast (no food or drink, even water) from arising from sleep until receiving Communion. For afternoon or evening Liturgies, one should keep a strict fast for at least six hours if possible. Because a priest eats and drinks the remaining Eucharist, he fasts before every Liturgy he celebrates.
When travelling or ill , Orthodox are not obliged to fast. Additionally, exceptions are made for hospitality, because the focus should not be on outward shows of piety, but rather accepting the love and generosity of others. Orthodox Christians should not fast to the detriment of their health. ''If you are new to fasting, ask your [[priest]] for guidance before you begin.''
On many other
feasts, particular foods are avoided, in lesser degrees of fasting.
Fasting also partners with [[prayer]]
and [[almsgiving]], readying the whole person like an athlete, body, mind, and soul, for an upcoming [[feast]], similar to the way in which Orthodox Christians would hope to be properly prepared for the [[Second Coming]]. For this reason, during fasting seasons, no [[marriage]]s should take place. (Cf. [[ Pastoral Guidelines]]. )
==History and Tradition==
The Christians inherited the tradition of fasting from the [[Judaism|Jews]]. Jesus, too, gave examples of fasting to his [[disciple]]s.
*[http://xcthesavior.org/content/view/35/ "The Discipline of Fasting"] by Bishop Kallistos Ware
*[http://www.christianforums.com/t95160&goto=nextnewest "On Fasting at Great Lent"] by Fr. [[Alexander Schmemann]] (scroll down to comment 5)