There's the shortening of the Prophets' Fast before the Nativity...
At least as far back as Bar Hebraeus, the Nativity Fast was of varying length in the Syriac Church. In Hudoyo
, he attests to the custom of the Orthodox West Syrians of keeping the fast for fifteen days and the custom of the Orthodox East Syrians of keeping the fast for twenty-five days, while ascetics kept the fast for the full forty days. Even in other Orthodox traditions, the Nativity Fast is a rather fluid phenomenon: on the EO side, for example, Theodore Balsamon attests that the original fast was merely a week, and the various date-based allowances for fish, wine, etc. attest to this earlier practice. So shortening this particular fast, IMO, is not without precedent and doesn't bother me so much on its own.
...but this was also rather startling: "In addition to shortening the periods of other fasts for all the faithful in AD1946. Late Patriarch Yacoub III of Good Memory (+1980) permitted the Clergy and Laity to fast only in the first and last weeks of Lent in addition to Wednesdays and Fridays, permitting them to eat all sorts of food during the rest of Lent in 1966. He also permitted having festivities, weddings, baptism and liturgies and commemorations on all the days that fall between the two aforementioned weeks..."
Yeah, you'll find that contemporary Syriac fasting requirements have been lessened in the last century. I'm not exactly sure why that is. Was it related to Seyfo? Diaspora emigration? Emulating Western Christian practice? His Holiness' article gives a rather legalistic view of the matter: the fast was abbreviated so that it would be easier to follow, and in following it, the people would not be guilty of sin (whereas if they kept the original rule and people simply didn't follow it, they would've sinned). The only other "apostolic" Church I've ever heard espouse such thinking is the RCC: compared to them, the Syrians are still OK, but the change is rather unsettling for me as well. I don't want to judge it before I know more about what led to the change.
Anyway, the Syrian Orthodox people I know keep the full fast even if the "obligation" is for much less, so I'm not sure if they are a reflection of what normal people do or if I just happen to know really holy people despite not being holy myself.