Orthodox Christmas- January 7th.

Orthodox Christmas day occurs every January 7 because the Eastern Orthodox Church still chooses to celebrate the birth of Jesus using the Julian calendar, which was introduced by Julius Caesar in the year 46 B.C

An astronomer, Ghiraldi argued that the Julian calendar was in error by 11 minutes and 14 seconds, which amounts to one day in 128 years (or 13 days to current date).

In 1582, in order to correct the problem, the Roman Catholic Pope Gregory XIII abolished the “Old Julian” calendar and replaced it with the Ghiraldi system, a.k.a. “Gregorian Calendar” currently in use today which place Christmas Day on December 25.

Around the year 285 CE, Emperor Diocletian divided The Roman Empire into an eastern half and a western half.  Christianity flourished mainly in the eastern part of the empire as “Orthodox Church” meaning “Straight Teachings”. As Christianity spread out in the west, it became known as the  “Roman Catholic Church”. Under emperor Constantine, The Orthodox Church became the state religion of the provinces of the Eastern Roman Empire, which capital was Constantinople, today Istanbul. 

The early Cyrillic alphabet was created by disciples of Cyril and Methodius to spread the word of the Bible in the Old Slavonic language of the Balkan peninsula.  And around 988 A.D. Prince Vladimir made the Orthodox Church the state religion of Russia using the Cyrillic alphabet to teach the gospel and at the same time, establish a division between the Latin Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Christmas Eve is known as “Paramony” the last day of the Nativity Fast. People fast until the first star appears in the sky. Orthodox Christians celebrate by going to church, personal reflexions and other traditions like burning frankincense to commemorate the Wise Men’s gifts to baby Jesus.
Orthodox churches celebrate Christmas Day with various traditions according to the culture of the country in which they live. So, you might refer to cultural traditions of the Balkan countries, including Greece, Rumania, Russia, among others.

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