While most of us are getting ready to return to work after the festive period, celebrations are just beginning in others. Orthodox Christian communities around the globe are preparing for their own Christmas.
Why the Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on January 7?
This is simply due to a difference in calendars. The majority of the Orthodox churches worldwide use the Julian calendar, created under the reign of Julius Caesar in 45 BC, and have not adopted the Gregorian calendar, proposed by Latin Pope Gregory of Rome in 1582.
In 1923 a revised version of the Julian calendar was introduced bringing Christmas Day in line with the Gregorian calendar, but it was only adopted by some of the Orthodox Christian countries including Greece, Cyprus, and Romania.
There are 13 days between the two calendars, the Gregorian calendar being the one long adopted by Western nations. The Epiphany, for instance, is celebrated on January 19, rather than January 6.
How do Russians celebrate Christmas?
In Russia, home to 39 percent of the world’s Orthodox Christians, people enjoy more days off over Christmas than any other country in Europe, starting on New Year’s Day and carrying through to Orthodox Christmas day. Traditions that remain include a big family meal on Christmas Eve which often features12 courses to represent the 12 apostles. The meal varies from region to region but the most traditional ones include:
– Kutia, a pudding traditionally made of wheat and fruit, and poppy seeds and honey.
– Vzvar, a traditional Russian drink, served at the beginning of the dinner
– Roast cod or fish
– Borscht or beetroot soup
– Vegetable Pie
– Salads such as the salad Olivier also called the “Russian salad”
The other countries that will be celebrating Christmas in January include Belarus, Montenegro, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Egypt, Israel, Georgia, Moldova, Bulgaria.which they celebrate on January 7.
Now you are ready for Christmas part II? It’s still time to celebrate if you missed the other Christmas!
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