Interesting Facts About Orthodox Christmas Day: According To The Julian Calendar

For many people, Christmas is over. However, that’s not the case for the Drozdovskyy family. They are Ukrainian-Canadian and are celebrating Orthodox Christmas on January 6 and 7.
Many Orthodox Christians annually celebrate Christmas Day on or near January 7 to remember Jesus Christ’s birth, described in the Christian Bible. This date works to the Julian calendar that pre-dates the Gregorian calendar, which is commonly observed.
Orthodox Christians in Central and Eastern Europe and other parts of the world celebrate Christmas on January 7. The Christmas dates around January 7 may vary among some churches.
The day is a time of reflection, inner thoughts and healing in many eastern European countries. Many Orthodox Christians fast before January 7, usually excluding meat and dairy products.
Below are some interesting facts about Orthodox Christmas Day:
1. Christmas Day is a public holiday on January 7 in countries such as Belarus, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Russia, and the Ukraine. Some countries, such as Armenia, observe Christmas Day on January 6.
The January 7 celebration of Christmas Day is not a nationwide public holiday in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom or the United States.
2. The type of food and activity may vary depending on the country’s culture and traditions. In some Orthodox Christian cultures, people walk in procession to seas, rivers and lakes as part of the liturgy on the Orthodox Christmas Day. They make holes in the ice to bless the water if it is frozen. Little importance is given to gift exchanges and the commercialized Christmas.
3. Many Orthodox churches recognize the holiday dates according to the Julian calendar. Christmas is still on December 25 in the Julian calendar so the January 7 date is only valid between 1901 and 2100 The Gregorian date for Orthodox Christmas will be January 8 in 2101 if the Julian calendar is still used.
4. Christmas on January 7 is also known as Old Christmas Day. Eleven days were dropped to make up for the calendar discrepancy that accumulated with Julian calendar when England and Scotland switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1752. Many people, especially in rural areas, did not accept the loss of these 11 days and preferred to use the Julian calendar.
5. Saint Nicholas, who is the patron saint of Russia, sailors and children, represents the kind, good, and giving spirit of Christmas. White cloth is used on dinner tables in some countries to symbolize purity and the cloth that baby Jesus was wrapped in.
Straw may be placed on these tables to symbolize the simplicity of the place where Jesus was born. Candles may be lit to represent the light of Christ and the festive Christmas meal represents the end of fasting.
6. Some Orthodox Christians observe the Nativity and Adoration of the Shepherds (those who visited baby Jesus) on January 6, followed by the Adoration of the Magi (three wise men or kings) on January 7. Church liturgies on Orthodox Christmas Eve (January 6) may be longer than usual but many people find them inspiring.

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