Orthodox Christmas

Orthodox Christmas Quick Facts - US

AKA NameNativity of Our Lord, The Incarnation of Christ
HashtagsCompiled on#OrthodoxChristmas
Related Hashtags#Christmas, #Ukraine, #MerryChristmas, #Orthodox
2024 DateJanuary 7, 2024
2025 DateJanuary 7, 2025

Orthodox Christmas

Orthodox Christmas in
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Orthodox Christmas History

Orthodox Christmas, observed by millions of Orthodox Christians worldwide, celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. It is characterized by liturgical services, feasting, and the exchange of gifts, much like other Christmas traditions. However, its distinctiveness lies in the use of the Julian calendar, which sets it apart from Western Christian observances that rely on the Gregorian calendar. This divergence results in different dates for this significant celebration.

Orthodox Christianity arrived in North America in the late 18th century through Russian missionaries. Over time, its propagation has established distinct traditions that sometimes merge with local customs. Orthodox Christmas has proven to be no exception, as Americans of Orthodox faith move away from commercialization, placing emphasis on spiritual preparation, repentance, and fasting in the weeks leading up to the celebration. This more introspective approach strikes a chord with those seeking a deeper meaning in holiday festivities.

In America, Orthodox Christmas is observed on January 7th, thirteen days after Western Christmas. Preparations begin with a 40-day Nativity Fast leading up to the holiday. The fast is often followed by a night vigil or a Divine Liturgy on Christmas Eve. The celebratory meal enjoyed after the Church service often includes traditional foods, symbolizing the end of the fast. The Orthodox Christmas, steeped in sacred tradition and symbolism, offers a unique perspective to the tapestry of American holiday observances.

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Facts about Orthodox Christmas

  • In the Orthodox tradition, a 40-day period called the Nativity Fast occurs before Christmas. Fasting is a faithful abstain from foods, especially those derived from animals, and wine.
  • The Orthodox tradition uses icons - paintings of saints, to help people to pray. The main icon for Christmas features scenes from the birth of Christ.
  • In the old days, Sundays honored the old covenant between God and Abraham and now - the new covenant between God and those who believe in Christ.
  • The giving of gifts started as a Roman tradition. Although the early church fathers condemned the practice, it continues to this day.
  • Several feasts are held during the Orthodox Christmas season, including feasts for Mary, Joseph, the first-born children slain by Caesar, and Jesus' circumcision.

Top things to do in the US for Orthodox Christmas

  • Attend an Orthodox Christmas service. Orthodox Christianity is popular in Greek and Slavic-language communities, including Bulgarian, Russian, Serbian, Macedonian communities.
  • Go on a fast or diet leading up to Orthodox Christmas. Try eliminating meat and animal foods from your diet.
  • Go for dinner at the Russian or Greek Restaurant. Many will serve specials to commemorate this holiday.

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