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Orthodox Christmas: World where Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas

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Why are 12 percent of the world’s Christians waiting until January 7 to celebrate Christmas? The explanation can be found in the decision of many Orthodox churches to follow a roughly 2,000-year-old calendar that differs from the one used by the majority of the world today.

Christmas was celebrated on January 7 in the Julian calendar, which was used before the current Gregorian calendar. Christmas Day is still observed by the Orthodox Church according to the traditional calendar. Orthodox Christians commemorate the Wise Men’s gifts to baby Jesus by attending church and participating in additional traditions such as burning frankincense.

History 

There are several denominations within Christianity, the most prominent of which are Catholic and Orthodox. Although the variances across denominations are slight, one of the most noticeable differences is the dates of various holidays, which are usually only a week or two away.

The debate about when to acknowledge Jesus Christ’s birth dates all the way back to AD 325, when a group of Christian bishops convened to agree on a common date for the church’s most important holiday, Easter.

To do so, they chose the Julian calendar, which was established in 46 BC by Roman ruler Julius Caesar and based a year on the time it takes the Sun to orbit the Earth.

The computations, however, overstated the solar year’s length by around 11 minutes. As a result, as the centuries passed, the calendar and the solar year became progressively out of sync.

As a result, in 1582, a new calendar – the Gregorian calendar – was developed, which is still extensively used around the world today. The new calendar, on the other hand, meant that Passover and Easter would occasionally overlap, which the Orthodox Church could not accept. They agreed to stick to the Julian calendar’s dates after that.

Because of the differences in these two calendars, certain religious holidays have fallen under two different dates over time, which is why the majority of the world celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25th, according to the Gregorian calendar, while a few Orthodox Christians celebrate on January 7th, according to the Julian calendar.

Where is Orthodox Christmas celebrated? 

Orthodox Christians in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, who account for more than 12% of all Christians worldwide, observe these weeks after the rest of the Western world.

This date is marked by a national holiday in certain nations. Belarus, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Russia, and Ukraine are among the countries involved. On January 6, Armenia celebrates Christmas Day.

Orthodox Christmas traditions

40 days before Christmas, all Orthodox Christians begin a period of fasting. During the whole fasting period, no meat is permitted.

Many individuals will meet with their family and friends after Christmas Eve mass on January 6th to organise a massive feast to commemorate the conclusion of their fast.

Orthodox Christmas customs and traditions differ per nation, but while there are Christmas trees, wreaths, and gifts, it is not the commercialised Christmas that we are accustomed to. It’s a time for self-reflection, prayer, and healing.

It is customary in some nations, such as Belarus, to stroll through neighbourhoods singing carols (or koliadky) and dancing. As a thank you, neighbours give food.

Russia’s Christmas customs

The feast is preceded by a 40-day fast that begins on November 28 and ends on January 6.

The festive liturgy is held in all churches on Christmas Eve. A lighted candle, symbolising the Star of Bethlehem, is carried out and put in the middle of the church at the conclusion of the service.

Christmas marks the beginning of a 12-day period known as Christmastide or Yuletide. Believers should offer prayers honouring Jesus Christ, according to Orthodox canons. Christmastide has long been a period of celebrations, outdoor games and performances by mummers, fortune-telling, and carolling in the folk tradition.

Also Read: 5 PICNIC SPOTS NEAR GUWAHATI THAT ASSURES YOU A GOOD TIME

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