On the Eve of the bright Feast of Epiphany the Church set a fasting day no matter on what day this is. The date of January the 5th has a special significance as it precedes a great miracle made by God upon the man, after the Birth in flesh of Christ, the Savior.
It is about the fact that the man – Saint John the Baptist – will put his hands on the head of the Lord, of his Creator. Therefore how not to fast on such a day preparing ourselves for the exceptional encounter between Creator and His creature?
We also fast because on the Eve of Epiphany it is officiated the service of the Great Holy Water which the priests take to the houses of the believers to bless them. According to the rule we must taste this holy water and we can`t do this thing in any other state than by fasting and praying.
The church set a fasting for a day to compose ourselves spiritually for a better understanding of the love of God, the One Who is triunely worshiped for us the humans.
Of course the fasting from the Eve of Epiphany dates from very ancient times, from the 4th -6th centuries when the catechumens prepared themselves to receive the baptism. After being baptized they could take part for the first at the Liturgy of the believers and commune with the divine Eucharist.
If the Eve of Epiphany is on a day from Monday to Friday the church rule provides a very severe fasting even a complete fasting. The fasting is kept from the 9th hour then fruits and dried or boiled vegetables are eaten without oil. If the Eve will be on a Saturday or Sunday then there is no absolute fasting, after the Holy Liturgy and the service of the Great Holy Water food cooked with oil can be eaten as well.
Of course the day of fasting before the Epiphany symbolizes the state of repentance and purity which is required from us before the period of eight days when we will drink the Great Holy Water until the Afterfeast of the Feast.
Let us prepare physically and spiritually for the encounter with the Lord and say the beautiful kontakion of the Feast:
`Today You appeared to the world, and Your light, O Lord, has left its mark upon us as in fuller understanding we sing to You: “You came, You were made manifest, the unapproachable light.`
Archimandrite Mihail Daniliuc