While the modern world has fully embraced a period of feasting before the celebration of Christmas, many saints in the past would fast in preparation of Christ’s birth.
St. Margaret of Scotland was no exception. According to the biography St. Margaret, Queen of Scotland, the royal saint led a deep life of prayer.
Let me speak first of all about her prayerfulness. In church no one was so silent and composed as she no one so wrapt in prayer. Whilst she was in house of God she would never speak of worldly matters or do anything which savored of the earth; she was there simply to pray and in praying, to pour her tears. Only her body was then here below, spirit was near to God, for in the purity of her prayer she sought nothing but God, and the things which are God’s.
She was adopted a life of fasting, which may have been on the extreme side and harmed her health.
As for her fasting, I will say this alone, that the strictness of her abstinence brought upon her a very severe infirmity.
St. Margaret took upon herself such a fast before Christmas.
She kept a fast of forty days in preparation for the Feast of Christmas, although troubled with great pains thereby.
This 40-day fast is similar to what many other Christians have embraced over the centuries, making the season of Advent a season of fasting.
Today’s celebration of Advent has become so mixed with Christmas that it is difficult to understand it as a season that was similar to Lent. Yet, this is how past Christians approached Advent, wanting to prepare their bodies and souls for the great feast of Christmas.