Why do we have Ember days?
St. Lucy, Ash Wednesday, Pentecost, The triumph of the Holy Cross (Lucia, Cineres, Charismata Dia, Sant Crux) are feast days that help us to remember the four times a year when we pray, fast and have partial abstinence. They are called Ember days.
Four times a year Holy Mother Church sets aside these three days to pray, fast and abstain. These can be seen as four short lents. They are there for us to bring faith into our lives by taking time (in harmony with the seasons of Winter, St. Lucy Dec 13), Spring (Ash Wednesday), Summer (Pentecost) and Autumn (Exaltation of the Holy Cross Sept. 14).
Christians have fasted on Wednesday in memory of the day Judas sold Jesus’ life to the Jewish authorities. We fast on Friday to remember Jesus’ passion and death on the cross. Saturday is the day Jesus was laid in the tomb.
So this Wednesday Dec 18 and Saturday Dec 21 are Ember days with fasting (eating two small meals and one full meal) and partial abstinence (no meat at the main meal). Friday Dec 20 is an Ember day with fasting (two small meals and one normal) and total abstinence from meat (as is customary on every Friday).
Then on Tuesday Dec 24 we are asked to have fasting and abstinence in prayerful preparation for the Great Octave of Christmas (8 days starting Christmas day).
(The 1983 Canon Law does not oblige you to follow these fasts days). But if you are trying to be bring back Catholic culture and want to be a traditional Catholic, I encourage all of us to practice these disciplines to have a holier life and Christmas.
The original author of this blog passed away in July of 2016. RIP Father Carota.