Christmas in Eastern Orthodox Church
According to Russian Easter Orthodox religion, January 7th is the day Christ was born, hence the day they celebrate Christmas. Orthodox Christmas is a national holiday in Russia, so it resembles December 25th in many other countries. Family and friends gather for lavish feasts and dinners. In fact, at the end of Orthodox Lent (a 40 day period where no meat is eaten), upon the first star showing it's light, which is the evening of January 6th, the celebration and eating begins! Presents are typically exchanged and much of the country celebrates this special day.
In 1917, after the Russian revolution, Christmas activities and traditions were banned by the Bolcheviks. During the times Russia was part of the Soviet Union, Orthodox Christmas, and all other outwardly religious holidays or customs, were banned. As a practical matter, the custom of decorating fir trees in homes and celebrating with gift giving moved to New Years for most Russians. It wasn't until Russia, motivated by top officials such as Vladimir Putin celebrating Christmas liturgy, reinstated Christmas as a national holiday in 1991 that Russians fully re-connected with this holiday.
- Festive decorations
- Prepare a Feast
- Invite guests
- Begin Merriment
- The holiday kicks off the day before in the Eastern Orthodox tradition of Christmas liturgy, a mass celebrating the holiday.
- Often gifts are exchanged on Christmas Eve.
- The next day marks a huge feast with family and friends.