IF YOU RE gutted that Christmas is over, try not to feel too jealous of these Orthodox Christian countries – who haven t even celebrated yet. From Russia to Israel, scores of countries celebrate Jesus birth in January. Here s why. Christmas is still to come for the Eastern Orthodox community, who will be celebrating on January 7
When do Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas and why? Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7 – which this year fell on a Sunday. The celebrations tend to begin at midnight on Christmas Eve, by which we mean January 6. It s all down to a difference in calendars. In the West we use the Catholic-created Gregorian calendar, which was introduced by Pope Gregory in 1582. But, in much of the Soviet bloc and Middle East, they still use the Julian calendar – which was created by Julius Caesar in 45 BC. Germany didn t accept the Gregorian calendar until 1775, and Bulgaria followed suit in 1917. There s a 13-day gap between the two calendars, meaning Christmas Day falls on what we now know as January 7.
Nowadays, most Orthodox countries follow the Georgian calendar, but still observe religious holidays on the Julian dates. The Orthodox Epiphany, for example, is on January 19 – instead of the 6th. It s all because they still follow the Julian calendar, which is 13 days behind our Gregorian one Which countries celebrate Christmas on January 7? Nowadays, more than a third (39 per cent) ofб the world s Christians live in Russia – and around 85 per cent of them choose to celebrate Christmas in January. Some Orthodox countries – including Greece, Cyprus and Romania – adopted a revised Julian calendar in 1923, and now celebrate with us on December 25. Those that celebrate in January include Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Egypt and Bulgaria. Serbia,б Belarus, Montenegro, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Ethiopia, Eritrea,б Georgia and Moldova also all stick to the traditional Orthodox date. Are there any other dates for Christmas Day? Just the one – the Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates on January 6.
Countries like Armenia and Lebanon were outside of the Roman Empire, meaning they were never influenced by either the Julian or Gregorian calendars. Like us, the Apostolic Church also celebrates Epiphany on January 6. Christmas is a day celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, who many Christians believe is the son of God. While many celebrate Christmas on December 25, some Orthodox ChristiansP mark it on January 7. Not an exact date. PThe exact date of Jesus\’ birth has not been established in any secular text. With a lack of historical evidence, the date has been estimated by analysing the historical events mentioned in the gospels of Luke and Matthew and the ministry of Jesus. P The January 7 date is based on the Julian calendar for religious celebrations, which existed before the Gregorian one. P Old Christmas day. Christmas on January 7 is also known as Old Christmas Day. Days were removed to make up for the difference with the Julian calendarPwhen England switched to thePGregorian one in 1752. Many people did not accept the change and preferred to use the Julian calendar.
More than a third of Orthodox Christians. In Russia, home to 39 percent of the world\’s Orthodox Christians, people celebrate Christmas Eve on January 6 with services, and on January 7 they mark the birth of Jesus. P The Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates Christmas on January 6, along with thePEpiphanyP(the revelation that Jesus was God\’s son). P Sunday was the earliest Christian celebration. In the second century, the Resurrection became a separate feast and the Epiphany began to be celebrated in eastern churches on January 6. P Where was Jesus born? Bethlehem, Palestine. PThe gospels of Luke and Matthew state that Jesus was born in the Palestinian town of Bethlehem in the days of King Herod. P Mary lived in Nazareth. PThe gospels explain that Mary lived in Nazareth before the birth of Jesus and at the time of the Annunciation. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but the family later settled in Nazareth. P The Quran also places his birth in Bethlehem.