Saturday, January 3, 2015

Orthodox Christmas

Orthodox Christmas  in United States




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.

Public life

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.

Background

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 the Gregorian 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.
Symbols
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.