Fasting is an integral part of Orthodox worship, which is truly not complete without it. A strict fasts consists of eating less and abstaining from all animal products (meat, fish, dairy), alcoholic beverages and olive oil; on days with less strict fasting we are permitted wine and olive oil. There are no dietary restrictions on fast-free days. We fast on Wednesdays in commemoration of the betrayal of Christ and on Fridays in honor of the Crucifixion. We also fast during longer periods prior to the feast day of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the Dormition of the Theotokos, and Nativity (known in the west as Christmas). Great Lent os observed prior to Pascha. The purpose of fasting, which should be accompanied by more time for prayer and Church services and less time spent on secular pursuits and entertainment, is to help us cleave more strongly to God and to loosen the material desires that keep us bound to earth. Fasting is a cleansing of the mind and body and an uplifting of the soul to God.