To the Nativity of Christ!
Christmas! The day marking the birth of Jesus Christ is one of the main Christian holidays. Today, 25 December, is the Western celebration of Christmas. Today, millions of Christians around the world celebrate this holiday, but most Orthodox Churches (including the Patriarchate of Moscow and all the Russias) celebrate Christmas thirteen days later (7 January), as they use the Julian Calendar to calculate fixed feasts. This difference in dates doesn’t change anything essential in the meaning of Christmas, as we don’t know the exact date of the mystery of the birth of Christ. The tradition to celebrate Christmas on 7 January (Julian calendar) or 25 December (Gregorian) goes back to the holiday in honour of the pagan god Saturn, held in late December in the Roman Empire. Saturnalia was a precursor of modern Christmas and New Year, rolled up in one. With time, paganism died out, so, the Church decided to “baptise” Saturnalia, by replacing it with a feast marking the birth of Jesus Christ. These days, Christmas is a joyous holiday… one of the most beautiful Christian feasts. Over the centuries, many traditions grew up around this celebration… the traditional holiday tree, the “cave” (Nativity scene), worship, and special foods. Every country added its own local usages to the generally accepted forms, making it a kaleidoscopic celebration of national folkways and identity.
Let the newborn baby Christ bring us all peace, joy, and love!
24 December 2015
All Christians celebrate the Nativity on 25 December, but the Julian Calendar used by most Orthodox is 13 days behind the Gregorian (in the 20th/21st centuries). In the 22nd century, the difference will lengthen to 14 days.