Many Orthodox Christians in the United States celebrate
Christmas Day on or near January 7 in the Gregorian calendar. This date works to be December 25 in the Julian calendar, which pre-dates the Gregorian calendar. It is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who is believed to be the son of God.
Many Orthodox Christians attend a special church liturgy on
Christmas Day on January 7.Orthodox churches celebrate Christmas Day with various traditions. For example, many churches
light a small fire of blessed palms and burn frankincense to
commemorate the three wise men’s (also known as Magi) gifts to baby Jesus. Some parishes have joint celebrations for Christmas Day.
The Orthodox Christians’ observance of Christmas Day on or near
January 7 is not a nationwide public holiday in the United States. However, parking and traffic around Orthodox Christian churches may be busy around this time of the year.
There are Orthodox Churches in the United States that recognize
the holiday dates according to the Julian calendar, for example the Russian, Ukrainian, and Serbian Orthodox Churches. 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. The Julian calendar was revised in 1923 and this version is more in line with theGregorian calendar. Some Orthodox churches follow the revised Julian calendar but many Orthodox churches still follow the more traditional Julian calendar, which has the original dates for Christian observances prior to the Gregorian calendar’s introduction.According to the Orthodox Church in America, many Americans of Orthodox Christian faith celebrate Christmas according to the revised Julian calendar. Many people in other places worldwide, such as Russia, still celebrate Christmas according to the Julian calendar in which the Christmas date falls on or near January 7.
For many Orthodox Christians, Christmas Day is not about presents,
eggnog or Christmas characters that have become popular through commercialization. Christmas Day is a time to heal the soul. It is also a time of peace and unity.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.