Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Moscow Celebrated Despite Coldest Christmas Night “In 120 Years”

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Bitterly cold temperatures didn’t stop worshipers from celebrating Epiphany and Orthodox Christmas. Christian believers across the globe joined in celebrations. Those who attended midnight liturgy at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour had to bundle up for the bitter cold as temperatures in the capital dropped to about -30 (-22 Fahrenheit) on Christmas night. In Moscow Oblast, temperatures dropped below -32 (-26 Fahrenheit). Extremely cold weather hit the whole country, with some regions such as Siberia and Yakutiya recording temperatures of -40 (-40 Fahrenheit). In Moscow, the MChS deployed around 500 emergency personnel to help worshipers. Authorities provided around 200 mobile food tents with hot meals during the Christmas celebrations due to the cold. RIA Novosti quoted a meteorologist from Fobos weather centre:

This Christmas night was the coldest in the last 120 years, although the absolute record was more than 130 years ago in 1881, it was -35 (-31 Fahrenheit).

Frost hits Russia as Christmas Comes for Orthodox Christians (IMAGES)

The Orthodox Church follows the Julian Calendar, which is 13 days behind the Gregorian Calendar adopted by the Catholic Church in the 16th Century. This is why Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on 7 January, and not on 25 December. The Local Churches of Jerusalem, Serbia, Poland, Czechia/Slovakia, and Georgia, as well as the so-called Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (Uniates) and some Protestants, use the Julian calendar, so they also celebrate Christmas on 7 January.

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On Friday, in Serbia, where temperatures dropped below -15 (+5 Fahrenheit), Orthodox Christians celebrated Christmas Eve in front of St Sava Cathedral in Belgrade with a traditional oak log fire.

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In Turkey, Orthodox Christians also joined the celebrations despite sub-zero temperatures. On Friday, believers jumped into the Golden Horn strait in Istanbul in a traditional ceremony celebrating the Orthodox celebration of Epiphany, or the baptism of Christ. Traditionally, Orthodox Epiphany is on 19 January, according to Julian Calendar. However, some Orthodox Christians celebrate Epiphany on 6 January as they use the Catholic calendar for fixed feasts.

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Orthodox believers in Bulgaria waded into the icy waters of the Tundzha River and danced the Hora, in a traditional male-only event to celebrate Epiphany. The men dressed in folk costumes and dived into the freezing waters to find a crucifix thrown in by the priest, before handing it to the youngest participant of the dance. The folk belief is that the person who retrieves it will be healthy all year.

7 January 2017

RT

https://www.rt.com/news/372902-orthodox-christmas-frost-celebrate/

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