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RUSSIAN HOLIDAYS / ORTHODOX CHRISTMAS


Russian Holidays
Russian Orthodox Christmas.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, January 7th became an official national holiday. This is the date of the Russian Orthodox Christmas; Nativity of Christ; celebration. Many Orthodox Christian traditions have adopted December 25th for their Nativity or Christmas celebration which culminates with the observance of Theophany (Feast of the Manifestation), the Baptism of Our Lord, on January 6th; January 20th according to the old calendar.

In the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches, January 6th is acknowledged as the Epiphany; the time when the Christ Child was visited by the Magi from the East, or Three Wise Men. The Baptism of Our Lord is celebrated the following Sunday.

During the ages of the early Church, there was one celebration for Christ's birth (nativity), acknowledgment as the Divine (visit of the Magi) and the onset of His ministry (Baptism). This was the Theophany celebrated on January 6/7th. Later, the West divided this celebration; Nativity (Dec. 25), Epiphany (Jan. 6 or the proceeding Sunday) and Baptism (Sunday following Epiphany). Today, many Eastern Churches celebrate the Nativity on December 25th and the Theophany or Baptism on January 6th. They do have a feast for the appearance of the Magi. The differences between East and West evolved after the Great Schism of 1054.

The Russian Orthodox Church follows the Julian or Old Calendar. Thus, the Orthodox Church Feasts and Holidays of January are:

Nativity of Our Lord (Christmas) ~ January 7th

New Year's Day ~ January 14th

Theophany (Christ's Baptism) ~ January 20th.

The celebration of the Nativity begins the day prior with the readings of the Hours. These nine sets of Scripture lessons include passages from the Old Testament prophets followed by readings from the Epistles and Gospels. Vespers, in this case Vigil, features the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil. The liturgy for the Feast of the Nativity itself is that of St. John Chrysostom.




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