Why is Orthodox Christmas Day celebrated on January 7th? Which countries celebrate it? How to celebrate it?
Numerous Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas Day on or close to January 7 every year to remember Jesus Christ’s birth, portrayed in the Christian Bible.
Every year on January 6 and 7 millions of Orthodox Christians around the globe celebrate Christmas, about three weeks after numerous individuals in the West have just feasted and started the New Year.
For countries including Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Belarus, Serbia, Egypt, Ethiopia and Kazakhstan, January 6 is Christmas Eve.
The thing that matters is because of how Catholic and Orthodox Christians use various calendars to mark the holy day.
Orthodox Christmas Day History
Orthodox Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. For Christians, it is a 12-day season that starts on December 25th and finishes on January fifth. The Nativity of Our Lord is one of the 12 Great Feasts in the Orthodox Church. It is in some cases likewise called The Incarnation of Christ to demonstrate that God became man in Christ to live in the world.
Orthodox Christians follow the Julian calendar which puts the day on January 7. Most Christians follow the modern-day Gregorian Calendar which places Christmas on December 25.
Orthodox Christmas Day, additionally called Old Christmas, is celebrated on January 7th, relating to the Gregorian calendar recognition of December 25th. Even though the United States and some different cultures with Orthodox Christians follow the Julian calendar, celebrators of Orthodox Christmas regularly follow the custom of the January 7th recognition—this Christmas is not a direct equivalent. Rather, the festival revolves more around religious traditions that Pagan beginning traditions, for example, Santa Claus and tree decorating.
The difference in the timing of the Christmas festivities extends back to 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII, decided that the Catholic Church ought to follow a new calendar – called the Gregorian calendar, as it was nearer to the solar calendar than the Julian calendar.
The Julian calendar had been set up by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C.
Since it was the catholic pope who controlled on the adoption of the new calendar, numerous churches not adjusted to the papacy disregarded it, for example, Protestants and the Eastern Orthodox church. Protestants acknowledged the new calendar in the mid-1700s.
In 1922, the patriarch of Constantinople concluded that the Gregorian calendar ought to be followed for the recognition of Christmas, yet not for Easter, and this declaration was followed by numerous individuals of the other Orthodox churches.
The only Orthodox churches that still follow the 7th January date are the Russian Orthodox Church, the Ukrainian churches, the Serbs and the Mount Athos priests in Greece.
Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, who numerous Christians believe is the child of God. His birth date is obscure because there is little data about his initial life. The Gospel of St Matthew in the Bible claims he was born during Herod the Great’s reign. Herod, who was a king of Judaea, died in 4 BCE. Numerous Christians observe Jesus’ birthday on December 25 yet some hold tradition by observing the date on January 7.
Christmas on January 7 is otherwise called Old Christmas Day. Eleven days were dropped to compensate for the calendar error that amassed with Julian calendar when England and Scotland changed from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1752. Numerous individuals, particularly in rural zones, didn’t acknowledge the loss of these 11 days and liked to use the Julian calendar.
Numerous Orthodox churches perceive the holiday dates as indicated by the Julian calendar. Christmas is still on December 25 in the Julian calendar so the January 7 date is just legitimate somewhere in the range of 1901 and 2100 The Gregorian date for Orthodox Christmas will be January 8 in 2101 if the Julian calendar is as yet used.
The Julian calendar was reexamined in 1923 and this version is more by the Gregorian calendar. A few Orthodox churches follow the amended Julian calendar yet most Orthodox churches follow the more traditional Julian calendar, which has the original dates for Christian observances before the Gregorian calendar’s introduction.
Which countries celebrate Christmas on January 7?
These days, more than a third (39 percent) of the world’s Christians live in Russia – with around 85 percent of them deciding to observe Christmas in January.
Some Orthodox countries – including Greece, Cyprus, and Romania – received a reconsidered Julian calendar in 1923, and now celebrate with us on December 25.
Those that celebrate in January remember Orthodox Christians for Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Egypt, and Bulgaria.
Serbia, Belarus, Montenegro, Kazakhstan, Jerusalem, Macedonia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Georgia, and Moldova additionally all stick to the traditional Orthodox date meaning they are likewise celebrating today, which is on January 7th right now 13 days after the Gregorian calendar.
Orthodox Church in America, Albania, Antioch, Cyprus, Constantinople, Finland, Romania, Greece, and Bulgaria all exchanged over to the “Revised Julian Calendar” in the mid-twentieth century which is equivalent to the Gregorian calendar. So they observe Orthodox Christmas day on December 25th.
Are there some other dates for Christmas Day?
Simply the one – the Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates on January 6.
Countries like Armenia and Lebanon were outside of the Roman Empire, which means they were never impacted by either the Julian or Gregorian calendars.
Like us, the Apostolic Church additionally celebrates Epiphany on January 6.
How to celebrate Orthodox Christmas Day?
Albeit Orthodox Christmas Day celebrates the birth of Christ, there are numerous differences from the common December 25th Christmas festivity. Before the feast, many observe a “Nativity Fast” to concentrate on personal reflection and aiding those out of luck. Church services usually incorporate the burning of spices, including frankincense and myrrh. As opposed to gift-giving, this occasion is focused on personal improvement and beliefs, for example, peace and selflessness.
Orthodox Christians in central and eastern Europe and different parts of the world observe Christmas on January 7. The Christmas dates around January 7 may shift among certain churches. The day is a period of reflection, internal considerations, and healing in numerous eastern European countries. Numerous Orthodox Christians quick before January 7, usually excluding meat and dairy products.
Christmas Day, then again, is a day for feasting and enjoying the organization of loved ones. The Christmas feast usually incorporates meat and various sorts of pastries. One customary Russian Christmas dish is baked goose with apples.
The kind of food and action may change contingent upon the nation’s culture and customs. In some Orthodox Christian cultures, individuals walk in the parade to seas, rivers, and lakes as part of the ceremony on the Orthodox Christmas Day. They make holes in the ice to favor the water on the off chance that it is solidified. Little significance is given to gift trades and the commercialized Christmas.
Some Orthodox Christians watch the Nativity and Adoration of the Shepherds (the individuals who visited child Jesus) on January 6, followed by the Adoration of the Magi (three wise men or kings) on January 7. Church ceremonies on Orthodox Christmas Eve (January 6) might be longer than expected yet numerous individuals discover them motivating.
Some Orthodox Churches, particularly in the United States, celebrate on December 25th to agree with the more broadly celebrated holiday or have combined the two festivals. Be that as it may, in different parts of the world, the January 7th Orthodox celebration is more common, particularly Eastern Europe. Countries that consider Orthodox Christmas Day a public holiday include Russia, Egypt, Ukraine, Serbia, and Ethiopia, among others. In any case, the United States doesn’t perceive the holiday in public sense.
As opposed to showy lights and different decorations, the feast table is simpler, with a white table cloth and sometimes straw and candles to represent the nativity story. It should be a peaceful, calm setting.
Some Orthodox Christians call the feast, “Holy Supper”. The kinds of food may shift over the world, yet typical foods are likewise altogether different from the Julian Christmas: mushroom soup, porridge, cod, peas, Lenten bread, biscuits, and honey alongside vegetables relying upon the agricultural region. Sometimes, food highlights poppy seeds, representing peace. Generally, meat is avoided.
A few services have the assemblage walk together to waterways as a major aspect of the ceremony to favor the water, drilling holes in ice if the waterway is solid. Services frequently last well into the night and early morning hours, yet this is viewed as a strong spiritual experience.
As previously referenced, numerous cultures quick before observing Orthodox Christmas, which lasts until the first star of the night or until the service is finished. During the feast, some put porridge on the spoon and throw it at the ceiling—sticking to the ceiling is viewed as good luck.
Orthodox Christmas Day isn’t different from the Julian version. A few countries, particularly Russia, feature St. Nicholas, but instead as a symbol of the holiday’s giving soul as a patron saint. This liberal saint is known for hiding gifts, for example, sneaking coins into coat pockets or socks. During the Soviet bans on religion that happened in the twentieth century, St. Nicholas was supplanted with the figure of Grandfather Frost.