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What is Orthodox Christmas and why is it on January 7?

Rob Thompson

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What is Orthodox Christmas and why is it on January 7?

Source - Metro News
By -Jack Slater

Date 07-01-23

Merry Christmas… again!

If you’ve just taken down your decorations for Twelfth Night and were actually looking forward to getting back to some normalcy, we’re sorry to say Christmas is back. Sort of.

Some countries will be observing Orthodox Christmas today, January 7.…
Many Orthodox Christians annually celebrate Christmas Day on or near January 7 to remember Jesus Christ’s birth, described in the Christian Bible.

The discrepancy in dates is all to do with which calendar countries around the world follow.

In Great Britain, we follow the new Gregorian calendar but some countries still follow the old Julian calendar, created by Julius Caesar in 35AD, for religious festivals.

The Julian calendar miscalculated the length of a solar year, creating an 11-minute discrepancy each year, which built up over time and caused it to fall out of sync.

However, while the Gregorian calendar replaced the Julian calendar many countries retained the historic Julian calendar dates to mark certain religious festivals including Christmas.

Which countries celebrate Orthodox Christmas?
There are 16 countries around the world that mark Christmas Day in January.

Many of these are in the Soviet bloc, the Middle East and parts of Europe.

They include:


Christmas is not only celebrated on a different day in these countries but it is also celebrated in different ways.

In Serbia the day is spent hunting for an oak branch to be burned during Christmas dinner. Meanwhile in Belarus people eat pancakes and fish on a table of straw and in Montenegro a loaf of bread with a coin inside is broken during dinner with the person receiving the coin gaining good luck.
Those in Russia eat 12 courses – including beetroot soup, fish and stuffed cabbage – on Christmas Eve to pay tribute to the 12 apostles while in Kazakhstan there is a midnight liturgy at the cathedral in Almaty.

People in Macedonia chop an oak log into three pieces on Christmas Eve to represent the Holy Trinity and in Ethiopia males play a game called ganna with a curved stick and wooden ball and eat a spicy meat stew called ‘wat’.

A goat is usually slaughtered and eaten in Eritrea while christians in Egypt feast on meat, eggs and butter on Christmas Eve after a long fast beforehand from November 25. A pig is slaughtered as a Christmas meal in Romania.

And in Greece a sprig of basil is wrapped around a cross an placed in water while other countries celebrate Christmas in a similar way to Britain with a Christmas tree and blessings.

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Didn't realize so many of my neighbors followed this tradition, I just thought they were too lazy to turn off their lights.

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Actually, this is great information. The more we learn about other customs and traditions, the better we are able to present ourselves as gift givers. Thanks for posting.

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Definitely Gus there are lots more really informative posts on CN I still havent managed to them all :))

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