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Mar 28th
Home Sections History Merry Orthodox Christmas (on Jan. 7)
Merry Orthodox Christmas (on Jan. 7) PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 05 January 2009 16:19

By Lolo Bobby M. Reyes


case you missed greeting friends and loved ones “Merry Christmas” on or before Dec. 25th, you can still take advantage of the Russian Orthodox Christmas on January 7th. Christmas in January is celebrated not only by the Russian Orthodox Church but also by the different Orthodox churches in Eastern Europe and Greece (Greek Uniate Church) and the various Orthodox congregations in the United States. The Orthodox Nativity observes the Julian calendar.

At least in Southern California, there are Filipino-American members of the Orthodox Church. One of them is a Filipino-American Orthodox priest, Msgr. Eric Ong Veloso, who is the chaplain of the Media Breakfast Club.


Editor’s Note: Monsignor Veloso is mentioned also in this article, Why Did St. Peter's Chicken Cross the Road?

According to anecdotal sources, the Russian Orthodox Christmas was introduced in the Philippines after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution when some “White Russians” fled to, and sought sanctuary in, the Philippines. There are still some Filipino families that are of Russian descent or have Russian heritage.


A ccording to, in accordance with the old Julian calendar, the Russian Orthodox Nativity is celebrated on 7 January, thirteen days after the Western (Roman) Christmas on 25 December. Christmas, along with other religious celebrations, was banned throughout Russia after the 1917 Revolution. It was only in 1992, some 75 years later, that Christmas was once again openly observed. Today, the Russian Orthodox Christmas is celebrated in splendid style, with faithful adherents of the Russian Orthodox Church often attending all night Mass at ornately decorated cathedrals filled with the aroma of incense.


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Here is the rest of the description of the Russian Orthodox Christmas – as found in the said QUOTE. It is traditional for families to gather together on Christmas Eve and share a special meal. Generally, family members will fast for the day until the first star appears. The meal that follows the fast contains no meat, with the main dish being Kutya. This symbolic food is made of various grains signifying hope, with honey and poppy seed symbolizing happiness and peace. This meal is referred to as “The Holy Supper” and is served on a table that is draped in a white cloth, symbolic of Christ’s swaddling clothes at his birth. Some hay is brought into the room as a reminder of the humble dwelling that Jesus was born in and a tall white candle adorns the centre of the table as a reminder that Christ is the light of the World. A round loaf of bread is placed next to the candle as a symbol of Christ being the bread of life.


The meal begins with the father leading the family in saying the Lord’s Prayer and offering a prayer of thanksgiving. Prayers requesting good things for the coming year are also offered. The mother of the family dips her finger in honey and makes a cross on the forehead of each one present, wishing them sweetness and goodness for the coming year. This is followed by everyone taking a piece of the symbolic bread and dipping it into honey and garlic to represent the sweetness and bitterness of life. Then the meal is eaten and Christmas presents are opened, after which the family goes to church and returns between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. Christmas day is spent with neighbors and family members visiting one another throughout the day, eating, drinking and singing Christmas carols.

The Russian Orthodox Christmas is certainly a time spent observing solemn rituals and contemplating serious matters, but is also a most joyous occasion for families to gather together and enjoy each other’s company. UNQUOTE.

T herefore, to our Dear Readers and Friends who missed our Christmas greetings last month, we wish them a very Blessed and Merry Orthodox Christmas. # # #


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Last Updated on Monday, 04 January 2016 04:59

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