How Christmas is celebrated by Orthodox Christians?

The story of the birth of Jesus Christ contain the Gospels of Luke and Matthew. During the reign of Herod in Judea under the rule of Rome, Emperor Augustus issued a decree to hold a national census. The Jews wrote down on my knees and childbirth; each family had their seats of the patriarchs. Joseph and Mary, as descendants of king David, were born from Bethlehem, they had to write only there, that’s where they went from Nazareth.

According to the gospel, in Bethlehem, they could not find a place in the house or at the Inn, why were forced to stay outside of town, in a cave where shepherds sheltered livestock in inclement weather. In this cave night of the blessed virgin Mary and the Baby was born — the Son of God, Christ. The first Christmas Jesus came to worship shepherds, informed about this wonderful event by the appearance of the angel. But in heaven was revealed to the miraculous star that led to the baby Jesus by the Magi (wise men). The wise men gave Christ gifts — gold, frankincense, and myrrh. On the eighth day after the birth of the Savior, according to the law, he was given the name Jesus, which was given by the Lord through the angel.

The Christian Church celebrates the great event of the Nativity on 25 December. The Russian Orthodox Church follows the liturgical life of the Julian calendar, which is December 25 corresponds to January 7 on the Gregorian (modern Russian calendar).

On Christmas eve, serve the all-night vigil with Great Compline, which sing and read the prophecies about Christmas. Around the midnight Matins, which is made after major holidays. It read fragments of the gospel of Christmas and sing the Canon “Christ is born…” — one of the most beautiful canons of the Orthodox service. Next, serve a festive divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

“Christmas”, the icon of Andrei Rublev. Fragment of the icon


Vigil — the liturgical service, which consists of Vespers and Matins, which have received these names by the time of the Commission. Before the holidays the morning and evening service together in the so-called “vigil”, that is a prayer that continues all night. This prayer happens only twice a year — on Christmas and Easter. Before Christmas Vespers serve Vespers and Great Compline (do it after celebrated Christmas eve Vespers, hence the name).

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Folk traditions of celebration in Russia

The folk tradition of celebrating the Christmas holidays from Christmas to Epiphany rooted in the Slavic customs of celebrations of the winter solstice. Required attributes of the holiday were disguise (disguise using pelts, masks and antlers), caroling (home visits by a group of villagers who performed “auspicious” sentences and songs addressed to the owners of the house, for which they received a treat), Christmas songs, or carols, youth games and divination.

Christmas began on Christmas Eve with Christmas dinner with Christmas pudding and porridge, cake with pretzels, holiday baked figures of animals made of wheat dough, which decorated the tables, the window of the hut, and who sent in gifts to friends and relatives. When the family gathered around the table, the elders remembered the year — all the good and bad in the past year. After the meal the remaining part Kuti children carried the grandparents, as well as the poor so that they could celebrate Christmas. In some places food and cloth is not removed from the table until morning, thinking to the table come the souls of the departed parents, too, to eat.

Then mummers dressed in wool coats up and animal masks to be incognito, danced in the homes and on the streets, acted out scenes and entire shows. At the end of the XVII century from Poland to Russia penetrated the performance theatre: in a special box-Nativity scene using puppets act out scenes about the birth of Jesus Christ and other stories.

The fragment “Kresovich eslick”.

Echoes of pagan beliefs was manifested in the fact that the Yuletide was made to wonder. In some villages at Christmastime burned straw — according to legend, the deceased ancestors in these moments came in to get warm by the fire. The Church is not endorsing witchcraft superstitions and pagan rites, assimilated “harmless” the customs, and they are mainstreamed in national life.

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For Christmas the home team always cleaned the house, bathed in the bath, made a clean cloth, was laid up in new clothes and put on the beginning of the day, was invited to Christmas dinner to lonely people. But here and there were widespread and associated with holiday superstitions: at Breakfast did not drink plain water, as it was believed that people, who drank water on Christmas morning, the whole summer will be thirsty. In fear of all sorts of troubles at Christmas can’t be bend, weave or sew. The legs of the dining table tied together with a rope so that the animal didn’t run away from the herd. The remains of the evening meal carried over the fence — “the wolves did not harm the peasant cattle”.

Traditional Christmas buffet had a variety of pork dishes: aspic, fried pig, stuffed pig’s head, roast. On the Christmas table was served and baked poultry and fish, fried and baked meat in large pieces, because the device of the Russian stove has successfully prepare large meals. Finely chopped meat cooked in pots along with the traditional porridge. Meat are stuffed with variety of cakes: cakes, cheesecakes, balls, pie, kurnik, pies and other Cooked casseroles and pancakes. Except for meat toppings, cooked a variety of vegetables, fruit, mushrooms, fish, cottage cheese and mixed toppings.

The history of the holiday in Russia

Christmas holiday has become a celebration after the baptism of Rus by Prince Vladimir in the late X century. Christmas took second in importance after Easter place in a number of state holidays of the Russian state. And after the victory over Napoleon, the feast of the Nativity of Christ in the Russian Orthodox Church is associated with “remembrance of the deliverance of our country from the Gauls and Dvenadtsat languages in 1812″.

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By the end of the nineteenth century the celebration of Christmas was not only religious but also secular celebration. In the Russian Empire, the law prohibited “in the eve of Christmas and in continuation of the Christmas holidays to start, according to ancient idolatrous traditions, games and dressing up in kumirskiy apparel, produce through the streets dancing and singing seductive songs”. By the beginning of XX century a fixture of Christmas in the city and in the village was decorated with Christmas tree, gifts which were brought by father frost, the Russian equivalent of the Western Santa Claus.

In the Soviet period, Christmas and other religious holidays, was eliminated by the state. Christmas tree and related celebrations have become attributes of the secular New year celebrations. “Christmas” tree in modern Russia was “Christmas”, gifts from Santa Claus also become part of the Christmas traditions. After the collapse of the Soviet Union reverse transformation has not occurred — the New year and has remained a major traditional holiday.

In modern Russia, Christmas became an official holiday in 1991, when on the 7th of January was a day off. In regions where the population profess other religions, instead of January 7, may be set another festive day — in this case, January 7 for those entities of the Russian Federation on a working day.

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