In 1923, at the Inter-Orthodox Consensus in Constantinople, the majority of Orthodox Churches decided to abandon the Julian calendar. And adopt a new calendar, but the date of Easter was still calculated according to the Julian calendar. But the Orthodox Church decided that Christmas should remain celebrated on the 7th of January.
Christmas for classical Orthodox Christians is celebrated on 7 January. Old Orthodox Christians also celebrate the New Year on 13-14 January. The Julian or Old Style calendar is 13 days behind the official calendar.
The Julian calendar (also known as the old style). Which came into force on 1 January 45 BC and was noted for its simplicity. Because the Julian year was longer than the tropical year, the formula for calculating leap years made leap years repeat too often. Eventually, critical religious holidays such as Easter were no longer synchronized with the calendar’s fixed date for the astronomical event.
Read also: Is Constantine a saint?
“God so loved the world that he sent his Son into the world.” And the rest of the Gospel text comforts our souls with the hope of salvation: “that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” According to the same evangelist, St. John, those who receive Christ as Savior. And believe in His Godhead will not be condemned at the judgment.
The Feast of the Nativity of the Saviour Jesus Christ is, by excellence, the event in salvation history that brings the greatest joy to the souls. And homes of believers. If at Easter, the joy comes after a week of sadness. Because of the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ, Christmas is not overshadowed by any trace of sorrow. And is lived to the full as a celebration of joy by children and parents alike.
The source of our joy is God Himself, Who did not allow the human race to remain tormented by the devil forever. And ever and sent us His Saviour. Even His Son made man so that all of us who are like Him in humanity might rise with Him to heaven. God’s descent to earth through His Son is the visible manifestation of God’s merciful love. Holy Scripture teaches us that at the basis of the incarnation of the Son of God is love, the chief attribute of God.
Read also: What kind of work will we do in Heaven?
Why is Christmas the best holiday?
Christmas is the most popular holiday in the world. It is the day when Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem in Judea. It’s a childhood celebration reminiscent of carols and carols. Despite society’s evolution, Christmas is a magical time when adults dream together with the little ones.
Christmas is the best holiday because the Nativity of the Lord is, for Christians, a reason for joy and hope in the soul. Christians prepare for this feast beforehand, both in spirit and body, by fasting from 15 November to 24 December.
God teaches us on Christmas Day that His true sons must show brotherly love and humility: love after the model of Him who was pleased to send the Son into the world. Not thinking only of Himself and not keeping internal love closed in on Himself, but opening it to men. And humility, after the model of the Son who, though God by nature, did not refuse to become a man. But descended to the fallen creatures like the servant, to raise them all with Him to the Kingdom.
Moments of joy people offer at Christmas by proclaiming the Birth of the Lord. Those who carol resemble angels and bring joy into the home. This explains why the custom of caroling has managed to pass into the third millennium of its existence. Without losing its value because each year represents a continuous “today.” And the Christ child is born each time, always bringing joy to people and giving them the hope of eternity.
The joy of Christmas is best felt in the Holy Mass, for the Mass is the service at which the angels serve the bloodless sacrifice with the priests in an unseen way. And they spread the joy of birth in the world by singing the first melody, “Glory to God on high and on earth peace. Goodwill toward men”. And announced the joy of the Lord’s birth to the shepherds around Bethlehem: “Behold, I bring you great joy that your Saviour is born to you. Who is Christ the Lord. ” So, participating in the Mass on the feast day means sharing the same joy that the angels had at the Birth of the Holy Child.
On the occasion of the great feast of the Nativity of the Lord, let us pray to God to make our house a cave and our soul a manger where the Holy Child will be born, who with the grace of the Most Holy Spirit will bring joy and peace into our homes.
Read also: How to start a prayer | Prayer Journaling
Christmas For Orthodox
Christmas is a religious and cultural holiday centered around the birth of Jesus and celebrated worldwide. Mid-winter celebrations, usually around the winter solstice, were a staple of many different cultures. After Jesus’ death, early Christian celebrations focused mainly on his crucifixion and resurrection, so Easter was the original major Christian holiday.
Christmas for the Orthodox comes from eternity and moves towards eternity, with a definite history going back about two millennia. The Christian feast of Christmas has an extraordinary complexity. And is adorned not only with its genuine meanings and many traditions and customs added and enriched over time.
Children and most adults associate the holiday with the arrival of Santa Claus bearing gifts. And they were accompanied by apprentices, reindeer, and other animals. In essence, however, Christmas means the birth of the Saviour, the Son of God sent by God to earth.
Eastern Orthodox Christmas
Christmas is the first feast with a fixed date. This feast marks the birth of the Saviour and is celebrated by Christians worldwide every year on 25 December. This time marks the bodily birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ and the first Christian celebration of the Saviour despite not being as old as Easter or Pentecost. The Orthodox Church regards the birth of the Son of God as the beginning of His saving work that will lead to His supreme sacrifice on the Cross for man and his salvation.
Christmas is celebrated by Eastern Orthodox believers according to the Gregorian calendar on December 25, while the Julian calendar considers this to have occurred on January 7. Also, the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eastern Orthodox Church is one of the 12 feasts known to believers as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. In countries where Christians are in the majority, Christmas is a legal holiday celebrated on the following day, 26 December: the second day of Christmas.
While in the West, the Nativity is celebrated every year on 25 December, in the East, it coincides with the Baptism of the Lord on 6 January, usually called the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. The people of the North believed that the Saviour was born and baptized on the same day.
Russian Orthodox Christmas
In the Julian or Old Style calendar, the Old Rite Christmas is 13 days behind the official Orthodox calendar. Before Christ, there were two systems of calculating the time of a year: the Egyptians had 365 days, and the Romans had 355 days. Every year there was a 10-day difference between the two, and even between each and the solar calendar.
Christmas for Russian Orthodox Christians is celebrated on 7 January. The Julian or Old Style calendar is 13 days behind the official calendar. The Russian Orthodox Church follows the Old Rite.
According to tradition, at midnight, from small to large, everyone goes to church for Christmas mass. At the Christmas table, the custom is to put money and hay under the tablecloth to attract wealth to the house. These are not removed from under the tablecloth until the old-fashioned Epiphany on 19 January. According to tradition, a woman in the household must fetch a bucket of water from a well, a lake, or running water on Christmas morning.
Read also: Christmas Eve | 7 Traditions and Customs
Greek Orthodox Christmas
Orthodox and Greek Catholic Christians celebrate today St John the Baptist. The last prophet of the Old Testament and the forerunner of the Lord, an important figure in the history of Christianity. For Old Rite Christians, on the other hand, it is Christmas. The 13-day gap with other Christians is due to the observance of the old calendar.
For Greek Orthodox Christians, Christmas is a religious and cultural holiday centered around the birth of Jesus and celebrated worldwide. Midwinter celebrations, usually around the winter solstice, were a staple of many different cultures. After Jesus’ death, early Christian celebrations focused mainly on his crucifixion and resurrection, so Easter was the original major Christian holiday.
At Christmas, we celebrate the mystery of the birth of the Christ Child from the Virgin Mary. And thus the secret of the blessing of parents and children. The family is the crown of creation and the place or environment. In which man begins to understand the mystery of God’s parental love and blessing for mankind. The family has always occupied a central place in Christian teaching. They represent the most precious intimate setting for cultivating conjugal, parental, filial, and fraternal love.
Things that you might want to know…
Below we present two ideas from other religious confessions for celebrating Christmas.
Nativity Catholic Church
The Lord’s birth occurred during the time of King Herod the Great, who ruled over Galilee (Nazareth) and Judea (where Bethlehem was). Both regions were part of the Roman Empire and ruled by a procurator. The empire was ruled by Octavian Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD). At that time, the authorities ordered a census to be taken, and everyone had to go to their home city to register. This established a database for taxing the population and land.
The Nativity in the Catholic Church is one of the most important Christian feasts, the first fixed date (25 December) in the chronological order of the life of the Saviour Jesus Christ. The annual feast of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ is the earliest specifically Christian feast of the Saviour. However, it is not as old as Easter or Pentecost, whose origin is linked to the corresponding Jewish feeds.
Christmas wasn’t forgotten, but it didn’t begin to regain popularity until the mid-1800s. Two Christmas books were popular at the time – Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol and Washington Irving’s The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. Portrayed Christmas in a warm, family-friendly way. Their stories were largely fictional, but they fired the Victorian imagination. On June 26, 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant declared Christmas a U.S. national holiday.
Read also: Who Are The Saints In The Catholic Church?
Nativity Lutheran Church
The Nativity of the Lord is the feast based on the biblical account of the evangelists Matthew and Luke. Over 2000 years ago, the Virgin Mary and her husband Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem. To register for the census ordered by the Roman Emperor August. Mary was pregnant following the miraculous appearance of the angel Gabriel. Who announced that she would give birth to the Messiah. In Bethlehem, the couple ‘lodged’ in a cave used to shelter animals. There, Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world.
The Feast of Nativity in the Lutheran Church is celebrated on 25 December. In the Lutheran Church, it is accepted that the exact date of Jesus’ birth is unknown. The New Testament Evangelists reported the birth of the Saviour without mentioning a specific date. And the early Christian Church did not celebrate the birth of the Lord.
An ancient Lutheran legend says that Joseph and Mary would have arrived at the door of a Hapish innkeeper named Christmas while seeking lodging in Bethlehem. Wicked and unfeeling, Christmas refused to take in the couple who seemed so poor. His wife, however, being a generous soul, took them into the stable without her husband’s knowledge. When he later learned of his wife’s deed, Christmas became angry and cut off her hands as punishment. But the Virgin performed a miracle and glued Santa’s hands back together. The miracle brought about a profound change in Christmas’s character, and he became a good man.
- Although in 1923, at a congress held in Constantinople, most of the Orthodox Churches decided to abandon the Julian calendar. And adopting the Gregorian calendar, the date of Easter is still calculated based on the Julian calendar. In which the spring equinox occurs 13 days later. Hence the inconsistency with the date of Easter in the Catholic Church.
- However, not all the autocephalous or national Orthodox churches participated in the Inter-Orthodox of Constantinople (1923). Therefore, the adjustment of the calendar adopted here has remained to be introduced by each Orthodox Church. On the date, it sees fit so as not to give rise to disturbances.
- Some Orthodox Churches are left with the unintended Julian calendar, such as The Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Russian Church. And the Serbian Church and the Monasteries of Holy Mount Athos, except Vatoped, are called “old style.” Because they celebrate Easter and all feasts according to the old calendar and the “old tradition.”
The Christmas holiday is, for many, a good opportunity for the family to get together and spend more time together. On Christmas morning, Christians go to church to hear the Mass of the Nativity of the Saviour. And the Mass of St John Chrysostom. Christians listen to the story of the birth of the Christ child when the Virgin Mary. And Joseph went to Bethlehem, and the baby was born at night in a cave. They receive gifts from the Magi like a king: gold, myrrh, and frankincense.
Christmas offends no one, regardless of faith or non-belief, as the great holiday brings goodness and joy. Many gifts, mercy, forgiveness, trust, and hope are in people’s homes and the world. Christmas, beyond all human heaviness and sadness, regenerates the spirit and represents light.