Millions of Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas today. The major religious holiday is similar to the celebrations on December 25th, but there are many differences
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Millions of Orthodox Christians are celebrating their version of Christmas today.
Not every Christian denomination shares exactly the same beliefs during certain celebrations, and that means that Orthodox Christians do not celebrate the big day in the same way as most Western Christians.
January 7th may seem like an odd day to celebrate for those in the UK who are back in the normal swing after Christmas and New Years and have to wait a long time for their next Easter day off.
Father Spiridon Sammour of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, said Arab News : “Many Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas Day on or about January 7th to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, as described in the Bible.
“Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, who many Christians believe is the Son of God. The date of birth is unknown as there is little information about his early life.”
So why are Orthodox Christians celebrating Christmas today?
Why do Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas in January?
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There are around 260 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, according to a 2017 report. It is the predominant religion especially in Eastern European countries such as Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, as well as in Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria.
Most of the countries where the religion is popular have their own version of the Orthodox Church.
More popular Christian faiths like Catholicism and Protestantism celebrate Christmas on December 25th. This is because these sects follow the Gregorian calendar.
The Eastern Orthodox Church follows the Julian calendar, which is slightly different.
Currently, every day in the Julian calendar falls 13 days according to the Gregorian calendar we use. January 7th is 13 days after December 25th in the Gregorian calendar.
PEDIAA explains the complicated change to the Gregorian calendar we use today: “It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in October 1582. It is a modification of the Julian calendar that shortened the average year from 365.25 days to 365.2425 days. It shortened the calendar year by 0.0075 days. ”
Further complications arose in 1923 when the Julian calendar was very much in agreement with the Gregorian calendar. Ir means that some Orthodox churches celebrate on December 25th.
How do Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas?
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With different ideas come different traditions that differ in the countries, religions and celebrations.
Christianity is no different and the Orthodox Church has its own way of celebrating Christmas where midnight services are popular.
Large community celebrations are common on and around January 7th.
According to slate : “Eastern Orthodox Christians often forego meat, eggs, dairy products and / or alcohol 40 days before Christmas and then fast on Christmas Eve.”
This means that Christmas Day celebrations also include a feast day in the Orthodox Church.
Katrina Kollegaeva is the co-founder of Russian Revels, which aims to bring Slavic food to London, said The guard all about orthodox food traditions at Christmas, where it is especially important in Russia.
In Russia, where most of the Eastern Orthodox Christians live, Katrina said, “The scarcity during the Soviet era meant that weeks, if not months, before the actual event, people looked for certain ingredients that were in deficit.”
Popular Christmas dishes are kulebyaka, a cake with a salmon and onion filling, and pirozhki, bread rolls filled with meat.