Many orthodox Christians from around the world celebrate Christmas Day on or around 7 January, observing the date of the Christ's birth according to the Julian calendar.
This date works for Orthodox Christians in central and Eastern Europe, and is often thought to be a time for reflection, inner thoughts and healing according to the preaching of Eastern European churches.
Here are a few facts to know about the holiday:
- Although Christians celebrate Jesus' birthday on 25 December, there are some who hold the tradition by observing the day of 7 January.
- Christmas on 7 January is also known as "Old Christmas Day." When England and Scotland switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1752, eleven days were dropped to make up for the calendar discrepancy.
- The Julian calendar was revised in 1923 to make it more in line with the Gregorian. However, most Orthodox churches follow the more traditional Julian calendar.
- One of the most important symbols of the day is Saint Nicholas, who is considered to be the patron saint of Russia, sailors and children. He represents the good and kind spirit of Christmas, according to widely accepted traditions.
- In some countries, white clothes are also used on dinner tables to symbolise purity and the cloth baby Jesus was said to be wrapped in. Further, in order to symbolise the humble background of where Jesus was born, straw may be placed on these tables.
- Most important food for the Orthodox Christmas include Lenten bread, nuts and fresh dried fruits, vegetables such as potatoes, peas, and garlic. Mushroom soup, bowl of honey and baked cod are also among the delicacies for the occasion.